My wife has a passport of country A + B1/B2 visa to US (country A citizens need a visa to enter US). I have a passport of country A and also a passport of country B + ESTA (country B citizens don't need a visa to enter the US, only ESTA) Since I didn't apply for a visa with my country A passport, I will use my country B passport to enter the US.

My question is:

My wife & I are planning to travel to the US and since we are family should go to the passport control together when entering the US. I have a concern that the security officer at border control will challenge us about why we are using passports from different nations and especially why I didn't apply for a visa for my passport from country A. Is this concern justified, or should we not face any problems?

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    Why would this be a problem? People from different countries get married all the time. – David Richerby Oct 21 at 19:59
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    I doubt very much that the officer will ask why you didn't apply for a visa with your country A passport, but if the officer does ask that, you can always say "because I didn't want to spend $160 on a visa when I could get an ESTA instead for $14." It's a perfectly reasonable answer. – phoog Oct 22 at 15:17
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    My married colleague has 3 children and prior to some being naturalized in the USA, they traveled on 5 different countries' passports. – Andrew Lazarus Oct 22 at 23:26
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    @AndrewLazarus that's impressive. Did your colleague have any stories about border guards' reactions? – phoog Oct 23 at 0:56
  • You should go to passport control together. It will be suspicious if you do not. You are a married couple, after all! – Michael Hampton Oct 23 at 2:35

There's no problem. Immigration officers understand that people have different citizenships and passports and will be used to seeing families where not everybody has the same passport. It happens all the time. You are not expected to get a visa just because your wife needs one; they can see you have a passport from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program and will understand why you wanted to use that.

On your ESTA application, you will be asked if you are a citizen of any other country, and you should answer Country A at that time. As such, the US authorities will already know you have both citizenships.

If you are asked about it at the border, you can simply tell the truth as you have here.

This will not be a problem.

Approach immigration together. This is what is normally expected of a family travelling together. Immigration officials are used to seeing married couples from different countries and requiring different documents. They will process them both. As @phoog says, you are expected to submit a joint customs declaration form, which means you have to approach together.

In the case where two people approached together when they are not supposed to, the worst that would happen is that they would tell one of you to go back and wait (source: I've done it accidentally). There is zero chance that wrongly approaching immigration together would have any effect on whether they admitted you.

  • Thank You very much for this answer DJ – Frank Ditrich Oct 21 at 20:09
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    In fact, because they are supposed to submit a joint customs declaration form, there is no chance that the immigration officer will want to see them separately. – phoog Oct 22 at 4:06
  • @phoog Excellent point which I had forgotten. – DJClayworth Oct 22 at 15:10

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