My mom and I are traveling to New York City together soon and I will be 17 years old by the time of travel. The airport of arrival is Newark Liberty Airport(EWR).

Will we have to go one after the other to the border control officer or can we be together since I am still under 18?

7 Answers 7


Even if you were over 18, you should be able to attend together since you're family and you're traveling together. This is particularly true if your baggage is at all intermingled, i.e. if you have things belonging to each of you in the same bag.

I'd present together. You'll certainly be advised if this isn't acceptable, and I fully expect it will be acceptable.

  • 5
    I travelled to NYC with my partner. We are unmarried but the border guard asked me to come forward once she had explained we were travelling as a group. Many places will take either a group or a family group for combined consideration. As long as you are polite and respectful at the border, I would expect the guards to be the same and at worst ask one of you to go back and wait behind the line until you are called if you approached together.
    – TafT
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 16:47
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    @Eric that is the opposite of true. I've been advised repeatedly by CBP passport inspectors that I should use the least restrictive option. For example, the first time, I (US citizen) entered with my non-US-citizen girlfriend, and we were instructed to use the US citizen line. Lately, I use the diplomatic line with my wife who works for the UN even though I could not use that line without her.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 17:13
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    @Eric I should add that airport staff charged with directing people to the proper line have generally given conflicting instructions, and I was told by one CBP officer to ignore then because "they don't know what they're talking about." On reflection, it is clear to me that their training does not address parties that are mixed with respect to US immigration status.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 17:44
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    @Eric, I have entered the USA with my US-citizen family at several airports, and the instruction from the staff has always been to go through the citizens line. Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 20:47
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    Since my experienced seem to be in the minority, I've deleted my other comments.
    – Eric
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 12:20

Your age doesn't matter. Go together. I usually do so. This simplifies the control of the immigration officer, especially if your mother doesn't speak English or if she expect that you will guide her to the city and country.

In any case, to reassure you, you will do some queuing, so check how other people behave. If a new policy is being followed, you will find that other people will be split (from their group).


Short Answer: If you're traveling together, you will go together, regardless of your age.

I've repeatedly flown into the US from overseas, most recently last month. My family is mixed US passport and Green Card, and we don't have the same last name. Regardless, we've always been processed with the automated machines.

If there's someone with a US passport in the group, and everyone else has the required visa, then you all go straight through the automated system. You can choose your preferred language for the process at the kiosk. A non-US citizen will have to submit to a finger print scan at the machine, everyone must answer questions about their trip, and everyone will be photographed. At the end, each person has a printed "receipt" to carry, and eventually give to a customs agent.

You interact with a human afterwards, but almost everything is done by machine.

There's a long queue beforehand, so use the restroom or fill your water bottle immediately after you leave the plane. We've stood in line up to 40 minutes.

  • Welcome to the site Ashley, good to see a personal experience answer.
    – Willeke
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 20:27

Newark is listed as having the Automated Passport Control machines. If you are eligible to use these then...

The kiosks allow people residing at the same address to be processed together.

I believe for visitors that means those who will be residing at the same address (including the same hotel) while in the US, not a matter of living together in your country of residence. Certainly you and your mother should move to a machine together and start entering your details - it will guide you if you need to do anything different

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    Only some terminals at Newark have the APC kiosks, at least as of the last time I entered the US there, which was about a year and a half ago. I'm going again in two days, so we'll see whether that's changed.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 21:56
  • Still no APC kiosks at terminal B.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 23:06
  • Thanks for the clarification - I was just going from the list on the link I included. Haven't been through Newark in years.
    – Dragonel
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 21:25

I know the question was about US, but I guess it also depends on the officer's mood. I was travelling to Finland last December on our way to Finland the officer asked us to go border control station together, while on our way back another officer specifically told me to keep the distance between me and the control station while he was looking at my gf's documents.


As others pointed out, age shouldn't matter. If I travel to the USA with my spouse, usually we approach the officer together -- it has never been a problem.

Except the last time. We then flew into JFK, and at that moment, I was a "returning ESTA visitor", and my spouse was not. Which meant, we got sorted into two different lanes.

But if that doesn't happen to you, and you're both queuing in the same lane, just approach the officer together. The worst what will happen is the officer saying one of you have to wait till the other is done.

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    Do you live with your spouse? If so, you're supposed to submit a single customs declaration for the two of you. How did that work when you were sorted into separate lines?
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 23:08
  • What happens if a parent who is a returning ESTA visitor is traveling with a 2-year-old child who is not (or vice versa)?
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 22:59

But it's not always preferred, in my opinion, it depends on the airport and how is the security there.

Someday in Frankfort, I and my brother tried to attend together to the border control officer. but he directly asked to come one by one.

So, I think this situation applies to NY airport since the security level there high.

Not in Sweden, they never ask for that.

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    This doesn't really answer the question - the OP is specifically asking about the US, and this is one of those rules that varies from country to country...
    – Nick C
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 14:55
  • Yeah, as you see I mentioned that "it depends on the airport"
    – Tailer
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 15:00
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    It probably depends on the country more than the airport. In Canada, this would certainly be welcome. Two friends traveling together should probably present separately. Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:18

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