I am a French Citizen, and will be traveling with an infant (6 m.o.) who is an American and a French citizen (she has the dual citizenship). I have a French passport, she has an American passport, she does not have any form of French id, but she is registered in my "Livret de famille", and I have a copy of her birth certificate (both French and American) proving that I am the father.

I have two questions:

  1. When I'll be passing the French border with her, should I go to the "Citizen" kiosk (after all, even if she does not have a French passport, she is a French citizen), or the "Visitor" kiosk?

  2. When I'll be passing the US border with her, should I go to the "Citizen" kiosk (even if I'm not a citizen, I am the legal guardian of a citizen), or the "Visitor" kiosk?

She obviously cannot cross the border on her own!

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    Not directly related to your question, but is the mother accompanying you? If not, you may need evidence that you have custody of her, since otherwise you may be suspected of kidnapping the child. – nick012000 Mar 11 at 7:07
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    @nick012000 Thanks for bringing that up. It's not directly related indeed, but would be definitely worth looking into if I was not traveling with the mother (which is not the case, but I thought I would not include this detail to make my question more compact). – Clément Mar 11 at 13:42

In both cases, you can go to the citizen kiosk. This would be true in France even if you were traveling with a spouse or child who was not an EU or Schengen citizen, since the Schengen Borders Code explicitly states that people who "enjoy freedom of movement" may use the EU/EEA/CH line at the border. It should therefore be unnecessary to prove your daughter's French nationality.

My experience in the US is that US citizens may bring non-US traveling companions with them in the US citizens line even if they are unrelated, but I have been unable to find a publicly available policy governing this. I have encountered some evidence that the practice may vary from one airport to the next; my experience has been mostly at JFK and Newark, while someone here has reported that he had different experiences in Texas airports. You might call the CBP office at your port of entry beforehand and ask them. The non-CBP staff who sort people into the various queues do not seem to have adequate training to deal with such questions.

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    My wife is an avid reader of Tim Dowling in the Guardian. He reports that his UK citizen wife marches the whole family to the US citizen kiosk because he is a US citizen. It appears that she has never been reprimanded for this. – Martin Bonner Mar 11 at 10:09
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    Yes, there's no formal policy but vast experience shows it's totally OK to "go along with" someone who's a US citizen, in that line. – Fattie Mar 11 at 12:49
  • I've always gone to the citizen queue in the US with my US partner, she's always gone to the "Other passports" queue in the EU... didn't know she could use the EU queues. Although a lot of the time she gets through quicker than me! – BritishSam Mar 11 at 13:31
  • "You might call the CBP office at your port of entry beforehand and ask them.": Thanks, I called the office in Charlotte, and their answer was (without an hesitation) that we had to go through visitors. Thanks for that good recommendation. – Clément Mar 11 at 14:40
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    @Clément please come back and post an answer (and accept it) to describe your experience. I would not be surprised if the officer at the desk tells you that you could have gone to the citizens' queue. If I think of it, I'll ask my sister-in-law what she did with her US-born son before she naturalized. – phoog Mar 11 at 19:44
  1. I would say definitely the Citizen kiosk when entering France.

  2. When entering the US, you will need to be fingerprinted as a visitor, so I would choose the visitor kiosk. There is often somebody managing queues (not a USCIS officer) who you can ask, but they may give you a wrong answer. At least if you end up in the wrong queue you can say "but I was directed to this kiosk".

At least once recently entering the US as a Canadian, I was told off by the officer for using the visitor kiosk. I was supposed to use the citizen one. No signs indicated that, and he agreed, but said I should have used the citizen queue anyway, even though I had no way of knowing.

It probably doesn't matter either way in either case, so if you get it wrong you'll know what to do next time to ensure a smooth entry.

  • All the desks have fingerprint equipment. The need to be fingerprinted in the US does not prevent someone from using the citizens' queue. – phoog Mar 11 at 2:54
  • @phoog: You're right of course, I didn't mean to imply that non-citizens must use the visitor queue. – Greg Hewgill Mar 11 at 3:05

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