I'm an Italian citizen who is coming on December 24 to the US with my daughter to spend some time with my boyfriend, who is a US citizen.

On October 14, I came to the US by myself to stay with my boyfriend for three weeks. It was my first trip to the US ever. Once I arrived in Chicago, they stopped me at passport control for an hour and a half because they apparently thought I was suspicious.

They asked me all type of questions: why I had only $500 and how I was going to support myself for three weeks. I said that my boyfriend was going to support me financially, so I didn't need a lot of money. (This was my first time meeting my boyfriend in person, and they knew this because I told them.)

They eventually let me in the country after an hour and a half.

Now I'm planning to come back to the US for three whole months with my 3 year old daughter. I'll use the Visa Waiver Program and have received an ESTA. I'm really worried about being denied entry. Will they stop me again? If I went through secondary inspection once, will I have to go through it every time I go to the US?

I will have to return to Italy, because I have a sick dad at home, who I have to come back to. How can I prove this?

Any suggestions?

  • 1
    What is your citizenship and what class of Visa do you have ?
    – Hilmar
    Nov 18, 2022 at 16:23
  • I'm Italian and I have a ESTA, I read that with the ESTA I'm allowed to stay in the US for up to 90 days Nov 18, 2022 at 17:58
  • You said you were coming on a tourist visa (which would be B1/B2). ESTA is not a visa.
    – A. R.
    Nov 18, 2022 at 18:40
  • Sorry, I meant ESTA. I thought tourist visa and ESTA was the same thing Nov 18, 2022 at 18:45

2 Answers 2


if I went through secondary inspection once, will I have to go through it everytime I go to the US?

No, you won't have to.

Will they stop me again?

They might. From what you've described, your visit is even more suspicious than before. This time you're also bringing your daughter. You already told them that your boyfriend supports you, and you are showing by your actions (especially by bringing your daughter with you) that there's nothing much tying you to Italy.

If I was a CBP officer - I'd assume you're not going to leave this time and would deny entry.

What an actual CBP officer would do - we don't know, but it does seem risky. You're very likely, in this situation, to end up in the secondary inspection again. You're at high risk of being denied entry.

  • 4
    Some parts of the story don't add up. OP says they "have to [go] back" to care for their sick father, but can be away for three months without issue? I don't buy it, and I doubt an officer will either.
    – A. R.
    Nov 18, 2022 at 18:42
  • 1
    Obviously if I come for 90 days I already have someone else who's gonna take care of my dad (which in this case is my brother). I understand the officer will probably not buy it and that's exactly why I'm trying to understand what I can possibly do to make them believe me. Would it be a good idea if I would buy the return ticket for like 10 days after my arrival, so they see that I'm not gonna stay long and I'll take some money with me too so they see that I will be able to support myself? What happens if I do that and then eventually change the returning date after I'm the US? Nov 18, 2022 at 18:48
  • 4
    @Duuskdjxjdkdjd Planning a shorter visit might be a good idea. However, do not under any circumstances tell CBP you intend to stay for 10 days if that is not true. You might get in this time, but next time expect to be asked why you stayed for 90 days after you said you would stay only 10. If at that time they determine you lied this time, you will be refused entry and banned.
    – A. R.
    Nov 18, 2022 at 18:56
  • 1
    @Duuskdjxjdkdjd If you can't convince them that you intend to leave, it doesn't matter how many days you'll say you're staying - they still won't believe you. They've seen it all and heard it all, don't lie to them - it will only get you banned faster.
    – littleadv
    Nov 18, 2022 at 19:08
  • 4
    Remember that under US law, CBP officers at the border are legally required to presume that you intend to immigrate to the US. It's your job to show you won't. That's usually done by demonstrating long-term "home country ties," such as a continuing job, an established career, a stable income stream, owning real property, and family (especially a spouse or child) who remain in the home country. Those factors all support the idea that you'll leave when the visa term (whatever it turns out to be) is over. Nov 18, 2022 at 19:34

This will be difficult: you are staying for a long time with your boyfriend who will provide most of your support and you are bringing your daughter. This can easily interpreted immigration intent and be grounds for refusing entry.

Will they stop me again?

No one knows but it's likely to happen: You have been stopped before and this time your situation is way worse.

Any suggestions?

I think your best bet is to apply for a B2 visa and don't travel with an ESTA. This way you can proof your "non-immigration intent" before you actually travel and the risk of being turned around at the airport is a lot lower.

You can try to shorten your stay, bring more money, leave your daughter at home, etc. but no one can tell you whether this will help or be "good enough". Unfortunately each CBP officers can make up their own criteria within a fairly large range.

I thought tourist visa and ESTA was the same thing

They are decidedly not. An ESTA is an electronic travel authorization whereas a B2 is an actual Visa which gives you significantly more legal rights at the border. If this is important to you, I would read up on the details and not just assume.

Edit: if I went through secondary inspection once, will I have to go through it everytime I go to the US?

No. It's up to the primary officer to decide.

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