I currently have the situation, that someone is visiting me in the US from Germany. But this person cannot speak english at all.

How and what should one do to get the person through the CBP as smoothly as possible?


The Event happened and my friend got through CBP very smoothly. I wrote her a letter stating she is visiting me, for how long, my contact information and when she is leaving. The CBP Officer was fine with it stamped the papers and that's it. She came in at JFK Terminal 4.

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    Related possibly duplicate: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/24980/… – Karlson May 7 '14 at 18:58
  • It is similar and helped a little bit, but I am more interested more into the CBP procedure. – Jay Claiton May 7 '14 at 19:05
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    You can submit your edit as an additional answer, if you want. It's encouraged by the site's policy and I would definitely upvote it. Thanks for coming back in any case! – Relaxed May 8 '14 at 21:21

Nothing to worry about, usually CBP staff will not need to speak a lot with the passengers (especially ones from EU), if they do, they will ask simple stuff like "Ticket" or something like this. Anyway, in case the CBP agent wants to speak with the passenger and the language was a barrier, they usually will do one of the following:

  • Find a CBP agent who speaks the language.
  • Or, some major airlines usually have a representative there to help in this particular issue.
  • Or, as a last resort, they will ask a fellow passenger who speaks both languages to help.

I can't find an official reference to confirm this, but I know it for a fact out of personal experience as I work for an airline and I have been to the US many times.

Update: I have found a reference that confirms CBP might ask other passengers to help.

  • So it shouldn't be a big issue and I dont really need a letter or something to answer the usual questions? – Jay Claiton May 7 '14 at 20:12
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    @JayClaiton not at all, especially for flights from Germany, I guess most of the passengers will be able to speak English and help. – Nean Der Thal May 7 '14 at 20:13
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    Thank you. I will comment as soon as the procedure is through and tell about the experience. – Jay Claiton May 7 '14 at 20:15
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    @JayClaiton It absolutely would not hurt for your friend to carry a letter from you explaining your relationship, your friend's language skills, and your friend's reason for visiting and general itinerary, along with your contact information. If your friend has never traveled to the U.S. before, it may also help to review typical customs and immigration questions (e.g. What is your occupation? Do you have anything to declare?) to help them prepare. – choster May 7 '14 at 20:45
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    I added the experience to my question. If anyone is interested in how it went. – Jay Claiton May 8 '14 at 19:40

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