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To think that the ESTA application programme to get into the US is a bit hair-raising?

(129 Posts)
pointythings Sat 03-Aug-13 18:35:36

Was doing applications for me and DDs to go to Disney in 2 weeks (and yes, I really should have done it earlier, I know!) and at the end I got.... Application Pending. shock! Have always, always been approved straight away, was having all kinds of visions of not being able to go.

When I checked half an hour later we were approved, but it really wasn't good for my blood pressure...

Taz1212 Wed 07-Aug-13 15:37:48

Tee, I've had that sort of reaction a few times from immigration - to be fair, it was more common 15-20 years ago. Once I explain that we lived in America because of my father's job they are a bit more understanding. grin I've spent my entire adult life in the UK and the US is as foreign a country to me now as Italy is. When I'm asked why on earth don't I want to live in America, my internal reaction is to think, "but why would I want to live somewhere foreign?" although we're just back from Mallorca and it was rather nice... grin

limitedperiodonly Wed 07-Aug-13 14:53:53

I attend a junket held in Los Angeles for people round the world in my industry.

A Kiwi living in Australia was held in custody for 12 hours and sent back on the next flight to Sydney in shackles because she'd made a genuine mistake and didn't have a visa.

Not that daft - she didn't realise until she was on the flight talking to a colleague that attending the conference, unpaid, counted as work. It's a mistake quite a few people I know have made - they just weren't found out. I didn't realise either but luckily someone told me before I went.

She innocently thought that if she confessed at immigration, apologised and applied at LAX she'd be let in. Poor fool.

It didn't help that the official didn't realise New Zealand was a country and not part of Australia. When the Kiwi tried to explain the official flew into a rage because she was unpleasant as well as stupid. There was more idiocy, but we'd be here all day wink

She was allowed back with the correct paperwork but was told that if she'd tried to lie there'd have been no chance of ever being allowed allowed in the Land of the Free again.

Sounds tempting when you put it like that.

greenfolder Wed 07-Aug-13 14:40:37

A few years ago we were on a flight to florida. Next to us were a family that had flown a few days before on UK passports. The husband and kids has US passports and dual nationality. They were refused entry, sent back to the uk-had to get their passports, rebook seats etc. They were only going back because it was a family celebration (I think it was their 10 year old that offered up this info to the us border person )

Tee2072 Wed 07-Aug-13 14:27:47

I think my favourite, just recalled, US Immigration moment was when we went through SFO 3.5 years ago.

"Why is your passport issued by the State Department?!?!"
"Because I live permanently in the UK."
"What?!?! WHY?!?!"
"Um...because I do?"

She honestly, I swear, had never met an Ex-pat before!!

oldandcrabby Wed 07-Aug-13 14:20:23

I had no problem with my ESTA but when I went to New York having replaced a lost passport I knew I would be 'taken aside' at passport control. Yes I was, and while waiting to be interviewed, I realised the background music was, 'America' from West Side Story. grin Actually the immigration officer was very polite, but I did not make a gag about the music.

limitedperiodonly Wed 07-Aug-13 13:32:05

I travel to the US on business - LAX and JFK.

Without doubt the most stupid and rude immigration officials and security staff I've ever met.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 07-Aug-13 13:17:08

I'm an American married to German, residing in the UK. I have long-term residency paperwork here now, but it's rarely a jolly experience going through passport control here in the UK. Hell, getting DS across the border to France was particularly painful, and he's the only one of the three of us who was actually born here.

I digress. I don't think there has been a time when we've traveled to the US as a family and I haven't been disgusted by the way the Homeland Security people treat my husband. Thankfully he's German and doesn't try to be amusing. grin

It's all down to the individual. Sometimes you get a good ol' boy (like the one who, when questioned about the non-US queue not moving, told me it was because "we don't trust them" hmm) sometimes you get someone brilliant who is actually kind and will chat a bit about life (and I realise the chat is trying to get you to talk about yourself, but they're professional about it).

Totally agree that there should be a reciprocal agreement where US citizens should be charged to enter the EU.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Wed 07-Aug-13 13:03:06

Thanks kickass - it's on my (many) spreadsheets!

kickassangel Wed 07-Aug-13 12:55:27

Wibbly, beware. That rebate from the UK will have to be declared to the US, and vice versa. Then they will each adjust your tax for this current year(ie try to get their % of that rebate) but because the dates are different, the refunds may well fall in different years. Then the year after, they will see that you were taxed on your refund, so try to give you a refund of xxx to cover that.

We've been here 5 years and each of us has about £700 which just bounces around between the US and UK tax office each year.

SquinkiesRule Wed 07-Aug-13 05:40:24

I guess I'll have to make Turbo tax my friend once we move back home. We'll need both state and federal this coming January, I'm dreading it.
The just federal until we die!
I wonder if the free federal edition is good enough or will I have to buy the fancy version online every year.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Wed 07-Aug-13 02:12:04

That's interesting re Luxembourg Tee.

FATCA scares me Taz!

As does Turbotax Math - certainly wouldn't have helped us unfortunately.

Isn't the tax system great, Kickass? hmm Been here just over a year and still not sorted properly. Just received UK tax rebates from 12/13 and finally got 2012 US rebate (3 days state, 3 months federal) as we majorly overpaid in both countries due to moving part way through each country's tax year, only to find that DH had more than paid this year's anticipated US tax bill by May of this year. We'll have moved elsewhere by the time it all comes out in the wash!

kickassangel Wed 07-Aug-13 01:37:33

oh dear lord, the tax situation.

it is the bane of our lives. 2 tax returns each, knowing which conversion factors to use, different tax dates, etc etc. sometimes I just want to get our savings and stuff the mattress with them.

Taz1212 Tue 06-Aug-13 22:20:48

confused Turbotax? Stocks and shares ISAs (which are one example of a bog standard UK financial product) are considered to be PFICs by the IRS. How the heck do you run those through Turbotax?

Turbotax is OK for those with very simplistic financial arrangements- e.g. someone who is not a permanent expat but it's useless for anyone who is financially fully integrated into the UK.

I have a degree from a top notch US college and I found that I needed to do a postgraduate course in the UK before my qualifications would be considered worthwhile over here. Unless my DC plan to emigrate to the US I personally wouldn't be encouraging a US degree over a UK one, but to each his own.

mathanxiety Tue 06-Aug-13 21:51:08

Turbotax is the solution to many problems of expats.

I personally would never let the chance of financial aid for third level education in the US slip away. Professional education afterwards would be another draw (med school, law school)

pointythings Tue 06-Aug-13 20:03:56

My take on it is that with the DDs growing up in Europe and learning European values and ideals from DH and me, they may very well not think that US citizenship is worth having. I certainly and increasingly wouldn't think it is worth it. Ultimately it's their decision though, not mine and DH's.

Taz1212 Tue 06-Aug-13 19:34:32


Taz1212 Tue 06-Aug-13 19:34:04

Wibbly, it's not policing earned income, but have you read much about FACTA? I've heard that in some countries it is becoming increasingly difficult for permanent US expats to open even basic bank accounts because of the future responsibilities and liabilities to the foreign bank. Fortunately I don't see any sign of that happening in the UK though increasingly companies are specifically asking whether you are a US citizen on financial application forms (instead of the old generic citizenship question).

I know a lot of people think dual citizenship is absolutely peachy and that's fine, but between filing federal tax returns and FBARs every year and having to assess every normal UK financial product (e.g. ISAs and other tax beneficial investment products) against the IRS system and various other headaches, I think there's an awful lot that dual children need to consider when they become adults.

Growlithe Tue 06-Aug-13 19:20:56

When we went to Florida in March I warned the DCs to not joke or mess about in any way at passport control. It would all be very serious. Then as the officer was taking mine and DH's fingerprints he turned to the DCs and said 'You comin' to see the Mouse!'.

He surprised me with his welcoming attitude. It gave me a great first impression of his country.

Tee2072 Tue 06-Aug-13 19:11:34

Luxemburg does, actually, Wibbly. Or so I've been told!

Tee2072 Tue 06-Aug-13 19:10:07

Also, the current Foreign Earned Income threshold is about $80,000 or, at today's exchange rate, about £50,000.

Like I say to my husband, I wish I had to pay US taxes!

Wibblypiglikesbananas Tue 06-Aug-13 18:58:09

This answers some questions but it's pretty hard to find definitive answers!

Agreed pointy - and I do wonder what will happen in years to come when/if expat children who have subsequently had very little to do with the US suddenly find themselves liable for bills, purely because their parents happened to be in a certain country at a certain time when they were born.

I don't know of any other country that imposes such a rule - does anyone else?

pointythings Tue 06-Aug-13 18:51:51

Thanks, wibbly, I'll encourage the DDs to work in high tax economies, probably like Denmark or Sweden, where they get treated like human beings in terms of employment and maternity rights as well, that way it's a win-win.

It's true that US tax rates are very low - DH pays only federal taxes and although he earns less than I do, his take home is more than mine.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Tue 06-Aug-13 18:47:27

The law changed last year. In reality (and I only know about UK/US nationality as this is what will affect my DC), UK tax rates tend to be higher than in the US so new baby would be exempt from paying any extra to the IRS if he or she lived and worked in the UK. However, if he or she were to work in a country where tax rates were lower or none-existent, there could well be a situation where the difference between the local tax rate and the current US tax rate had to be paid to the IRS.

Now, as Math says, this could well change over the next 18 years! However, that's the situation as it now stands - and like I said above, I have no idea how this could actually be policed or monitored.

pointythings Tue 06-Aug-13 18:38:14

Wibbly are you saying that someone with dual nationality could potentially end up having to pay dual income tax too? shock

Well, DDs will be travelling on their US passports.

mathanxiety Tue 06-Aug-13 16:49:07

Just drive defensively. You get idiots everywhere.

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