My mother-in-law finally got her B-2 visa (she already has a valid Ukrainian passport) and I've purchased her a one-way ticket from Kyiv to JFK New York. The plan is that my wife and she will travel back to Ukraine in the future, but we're not sure when.

The problem is that my wife and my mother-in-law have heard that they will be turned back either in Kyiv because she doesn't have a ticket back to Ukraine or turned back at the US passport control for the same reason. I've spoken to my immigration lawyer and he said that the second ticket is -- in the eyes of US immigration law -- not necessary so long as she doesn't overstay her visa. But, honestly, this has not calmed them down.

This is my question, what are the chances that my mother-in-law will be turned back in either Kyiv or JFK (like I said, she already has a valid Ukrainian passport and a B-2 visa) despite not having a ticket going back to Ukraine?

  • It's really difficult to say what the CBP officer will do.
    – Karlson
    Apr 23, 2016 at 2:41
  • Yes. However, I don't think that they will prevent my mother-in-law from entering the country.
    – gp443
    Apr 23, 2016 at 2:56
  • It is difficult to say since she can't answer the question of how long does she intend to stay if it will be asked. And it can be asked.
    – Karlson
    Apr 23, 2016 at 2:59
  • Return tickets are not required at the port of entry, but proof that she can obtain a return or onward ticket to a country she can enter (e.g. sufficient funds) is required. Apr 23, 2016 at 3:44
  • @Karslon, I've given her (in English) a letter explaining where she will stay and who will take care of her during her stay (which is me.) That letter also has my phone number that they can use in order to talk to me (I can speak English fluently, she cannot) if there are any questions.
    – gp443
    Apr 23, 2016 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


The rule of thumb here is whether the traveler is able to convince the Immigration officer that she is definitely planning to leave the country within the required term. A return ticket may be a factor, but it is neither a guarantee to entry nor it is required.

As a citizen of Ukraine, once I've traveled to the States holding a B-1 visa, and my return ticket had an open return date. So formally, I did not have ticket to a specific date. However, traveling for business purposes often has a good, documented, time-specific reason. In my case, it was my participation in an expo, and, obviously, an expo ends at a certain date. In my case, the officer looked at the expo invitation (two weeks or so since the date of entry) and stamped me 3 months which I have used shamelessly.

Also, remember that the visa does not guarantee the entry to the country. Everything is up to the immigration officer. Let me put it even in a less neutral way: her entry may depend on a bad mood of a particular Immigration officer. So, don't set yourself up into a potential trouble.

So, your mother-in-law may be asked various questions so that the officer were sure she's not a potential offender of immigration rules.

What you may do is:

Try purchasing an open-date return ticket. This alone will simplify things alot (however, it might be more expensive than a fixed-date one).

Prepare your answers in advance. Remember the factors that may help your argument:

  • Is it her first travel to U.S.? — the more times she has been there, the fewer questions she will be asked;
  • Did she have prior issues in U.S., even driving tickets? — counter-intuitively, this may count;
  • She's probably going to a certain event, doesn't she?
  • Does she have an invitation letter from the company who invites her? — this may help, provided that the letter states some required time-frame for her stay in the country;
  • It is also important to show how tightly she's linked to her (Ukrainian!) employer, family, and so on;
  • 1
    Pruvit! Diakoiy! I've never heard of an open-date return ticket, but I'll look for it. Lastly, is it possible to extend the length of the B-2 visa after she gets into the country? She has family over here.
    – gp443
    Apr 23, 2016 at 13:59
  • 1
    @gp443, I-539, Application To Extend /Change Nonimmigrant Status. Also, if the answer above is useful, don't forget to Accept it so that it didn't clutter the site. Apr 23, 2016 at 16:58

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