I wanted to ask people who travelled to the USA and are not citizens. I’m British and this year went to the US for the first time.

I was with a group of 5 people and they are all British as well. So I was watching what kind of questions they were asked and it was all pretty normal and what you would expect: How long are you planning to stay? What’s your occupation? What are you planning to do in the US? and so on.

When it was my turn, I got really confused when the woman asked me: Tell me about the area where you live. I thought she meant my home address but she wanted me to describe how my neighbourhood was and what fun activities around it there were. After that she asked what my hobbies are. And that’s all!

I was like: What? Really?

Is it normal practice or do they decide what questions to ask based on the information they have about you?

  • 1
    I think it's pure curiosity, a female immigration officer before asked me about how was my vacation and what activities i had and blah blah.. Aug 13, 2018 at 14:07
  • 1
    Immigration Officers are human beings. Sometimes curiosity (or their humanity) gets the better of them and they veer of traditional lines of questioning. Nothing unusual Aug 13, 2018 at 14:14
  • It would be interesting to know how this is dealt with when the traveller doesn’t speak English
    – Traveller
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:14
  • Just some friendly chit-chat. Nothing more.
    – Newton
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:24
  • 2
    Random questions are considered useful to verify truthfulness of supplied information and/or the identity of the traveller - i.e. if the traveller is not actually who they claim to be, then being asked to talk about their supposed place of residence may be revealing; immigration officers are trained to ask such questions and do this, though not always. It's likely that it is just friendly chit-chat, but you may see the same behavior if they'd be slightly suspicious about something (e.g. your face looking a bit different than the ID picture).
    – Peteris
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


After that she asked what my hobbies are. And that’s all!

There is no set pattern of questions that they must ask, all they need is a satisfaction that you are who you claim to be and reason to believe that chances are you will abide by the entry rules. The officer was already convinced you were fine, for whatever reasons unknown to us.

Those questions were just a friendly chat and nothing more. I'd be really pleased after such an interaction.

Anecdote: (It was UK, not the US, but hey)

A few weeks ago we landed in Scotland and the officer said Here for 9 days; what brings you here today? and i honestly replied Oh this 4 year old kid wants to see Scotland. And that was that, then the officer just had a friendly chat with him and didn't ask us anything further and stamped us in.

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