Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Being Refused Entry To The USA

Over a week has past since everything has gone back to normal. Kids are back in school, everyone is getting over the jet lag, dirty clothes are now clean, bills are paid, house is getting everyday messy... I told myself to deal with my situation regarding the denial to entry the US when I got back home, but I still feel so offended and hurt by the whole situation that I have done my best to avoid it... I'm still in shock over what happened I think. Here is the story.

When me and my kids came to Stockholm airport on the 29th of December to check in on our flight to Miami via Zurich, we bumped into problems. I thought I had all my documents in order, had double checked over and over again, but once there I was informed there was one document missing. An ESTA document, an Electronic Travel Authorization who allows you to travel on the Visa Waiver Program to the USA. I had no idea... I was told I could apply online on the airports public computer. We had lots of time as we arrived a good 2 and a half hours before the flight departed and I took a deep breath and thought "Ok - we can do this."

It wasn't easy. The computer kept on shutting down half way through the process and in the end I had to do it all over the phone with my brother's wife on her lap top at home. It took a good hour and half to fill out all the forms. And then we had to wait for approval... When there was 40 minutes left before departure I started to realize that this is not going to end well... I asked to cut the line and went up to talk to the lady at check-in, explained my situation and begged her to call the gate to hold the plane for us. I mean we were just waiting for that confirmation to come in with a "Ping!". She called the gate, but it was to late. We had missed the flight. It was devastating... I fell apart, seriously...

What next? Book a new flight? Will we have time to catch the connection flight in Zurich now? Soon after, the "Ping!" that we were waiting for came in. Everyone approved. Part from me who was denied entry to the US. No reason. Just a big fat NOT APPROVED! I couldn't go. Now the situation really turned bad. I fell apart, again...

Jay was sleeping in Miami with his phone turned off, unaware of the situation. I started to make phone calls to try and resolve the situation. Talked to the Embassy, US Immigration, where we had bought the tickets... No luck. No one could say why this happened. No one could help. What could I do?

I decided to send the kids on their own, I mean this was THE TRIP we've been waiting for so long. Saved up for. The kids were overly excited to meet uncles and aunts, cousins and grand parents. Family. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Their roots. Their blood. I could care less about the Bahamas cruise or the shopping in Miami. But to not be able to take part of the celebration of Grandma Flora turning 100 really felt unfair. And to be taken away the opportunity of watching my husband laughing together with his brothers and sister going down memory lane... that still makes my heart ache. When will I ever get the chance to experience that if not now??? When will we ever be all in one place, together and feeling the joy of belonging to the same family tree? Ever? There were family members flying in from near and far, finding space in their chuck full agendas, taking time off work, saving up money for endless months, if not years, to do this... But I was told that we had lost all the tickets as we had booked them all at once on the same booking number... the devastation just continued. All tickets? We can't even use the return tickets?

Once Jay woke up in Miami and heard the story, he got into action mode. He managed  to change the tickets for the kids and with the documented proof of why we had missed the flight we could re-book all lost tickets with just a small additional fee to pay. Now the kids could go. Tickets were held for me and I had 48 hours to get my entry docs in order. I called my brother, who arrived to the airport like Superman with his big arms holding me tight while I cried myself out for a minute or two. He had just thrown his boys in the car, half dressed still in their pj's, to go and get me. He made yellow pea soup and pancakes for everyone and made sure we all had something to eat. After all, we had been up since 5am... I spent the afternoon on the phone trying to get some answers and arrange my documents... No luck.

The next morning I waved off the kids at the airport with a flight assistant taking over the holding hands through security and off to the gate. I had to stay at the airport until they had taken off, and found a café with panorama windows towards the boarding ramps where I could watch the airplane tax out. The kids pulled the window shutter up an down so I could see where they were sitting, 7 seats behind the wing. Nelly sent me a text asking me to wave so they could see me at the window. I waved my arms so big you would think I was waving for rescue. But they did see me. People around me probably stared at this middle age woman waving her arms like crazy with tears streaming down her face. I don't know, I didn't notice my surroundings... I remember thinking that IF something bad happens now, I will loose all three... I will never be able to live with that...

Well, my kids did get to Miami safe and sound. Jay picked them up at the airport. They had a WONDERFUL time. They went on the cruise to Bahamas and sang Happy Birthday to 100 year old Grandma Flora. They met their cousins, uncles and aunts... They did it all, everything we had planned for. I hung out with friends and family, trying to make the best out of my unplanned solitude in Sweden, feeling a bit lost in the situation but I had a good time considering the circumstances. Now we are all reunited and many great stories has been shared. Photos. Laughter. Hugs and cuddles. It all turned out pretty well in the end. But...

The problem remains. I'm still banned to cross the US border and I still don't know why. I've already spoken to half a dozen different instances, but all I hear is that if I ever want to enter the US I will have to apply for a Tourist Visa. On the websites it says that if you've been denied entry through your ESTA application, they can NOT tell you why because of confidential reasons. Every person I've spoken to directs me to someone else, a new phone number, a new department. No one is taking responsibility to help. I want to resolve this, but I feel helpless against the system where no help is to be found. I'm married to an American since 16 years, we have 3 children. I have lived in the US, worked there with all paper work in order, I have visited the US many times after we moved to Europe and NEVER did I have any problems with the US immigration or special documents. I'm just a totally normal Swedish woman, living a normal life... Why is this happening to me? Why can't I get any answers? What did I do wrong? If I only knew...

I feel like a criminal. I feel mistreated, helpless and very very hurt. I feel violated. I don't know how else to describe it. It just kind of hurts inside, in solar plexus when I think of it all... I'm probably the biggest victim here in this story, but this has been a traumatic experience for my kids as well. It is just not fair to put people through this type of distress and treatment without a reason. It is not correct to deny someone entry to the US without explaining why, without giving this person a chance to understand and be able to fix what needs to be fixed. Could it be an error made while filling out the form??? Maybe I mistakenly crossed the wrong box...??? Could it be an unpaid parking ticket or bill maybe that I'm unaware of??? Could it have something to do with me leaving the US and my Green Card behind when returning to Europe. Maybe I needed to unregister or something... I don't know, and I think that is the worst part. Not knowing why I'm being treated like this.

I'm sure I will get over it eventually, but it is still so fresh in my mind. Time will heal.  Hopefully I will find some clarity in this one day and just maybe I will find a way to be cleared from this injustice label of "having unresolved issues with the US immigration",  like I would be a person of a criminal act, a threat to the USA.

Thank you for listening, I needed to unload this. Process it. The drama is over and all my loved ones are here with me. That is after all the only thing that matters.



Kärlek
Annette


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41 comments :

  1. I cannot even think of one response appropriate enough for public social media. All the tears, all the anger, all the frustration comes down to one person not being able to Just Apply His Mind.

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  2. Well, it beggars belief! Is it possible you were mistaken for another person of same or similar name? I could understand the authorities not telling ME why you were refused entry but not telling you? Ridiculous. I hope you can get this resolved satisfactorily. You can never go back in time and enjoy what your family enjoyed but maybe you can celebrate birthday 101 with Grandma Flora. Don't give up xx

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  3. This is so sad to read. I can image you must feel rejected, angry and hurt, it is so unfair that tyhey don't tell you whý? Hope you'll feel better soon.

    x

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  4. Oh Annette, what a total nightmare, I'm so sorry you missed the trip and that you had to go through that hell at the airport. You must have felt utterly miserable. I do hope you're able to get to the bottom of it all and get the proper clearance that you should have. Glad the others had a good time and that you're all back together now. Sending you a belated hug, CJ xx

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  5. This made me cry I feel so sad for you. Its ridiculous have you tried asking the Media if they can investigate for you send then this blog as it explains it well and any help agencies you have in Sweden you need to resolve this for future trips. Big hugs x

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  6. Dear Annette,
    How horrible. I can't tell you how to resolve things with the US authorities, but I can give you my sympathy, and tell you how incredibly brave and kind you were to send the children on their own, when you were hurting so much. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have behaved and coped so well as you did. You are a strong and sympathetic woman and you should be proud of the way you handled an awful situation.

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  7. Your story is almost unbelieveble. My heart cries out for you reading your experience... The world is getting grazy...

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  8. I am so sorry that this happened to you and your family. We have been to the US a couple of times in the last couple of years and I am always on tenterhooks until we have cleared immigration even though I am not a criminal and am just going on holiday.
    My manager had a similar issue to you last year - ESTA was approved for his wife and kids but NOT for him. He spent a couple of frantic days making lots of calls before he got it sorted. Luckily he had applied a couple of weeks before his holiday. It turned out that he was denied because his passport had been stolen in a burglary 16 years earlier!!!

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  9. Darling, I'm feeling in your place. So devastated and hurt. I was very relieved by the happy ending of your story. Ask the Consulate they have to have an answer for you. And tell us to relieve ourselves of this doubt as well. Have fun in this year of 2017 that has just begun.

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  10. What a total nightmare for you I really feel for you, I have had problems too when entering the US many years ago but that was because of a Country I had visited in the middle East which was stamped on my passport, I was delayed for ages but luckily I was still allowed to fly. I really hope you can get answers it must be so frustrating for you. :) xx

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  11. HI Annette, so sorry to hear of the terrible time you had at the airport. It must have really been awful for the children too, having to be separated from you and seeing you upset. Try to put it all behind you now and launch yourself into 2017 as a new part of your life. And yes the most important thing is that you are all together and that you have the love and support of your children, husband and family. Hugs Julie xx

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  12. Just reading your story is upsetting. I feel so badly that this has happened to you and your family. Your husband as an American citizen may be able to resolve this more quickly than you, possibly through the American embassy or even through a congressman. A close member of his family in the United States can contact the congressman from their district and with persistence on the part of the family member it could be resolved very quickly. Don't be discouraged or offended please - it's probably something simple, but in this day and age of poor customer service and "passing the buck" getting someone in authority to take ownership of a problem and resolve it is difficult. Please keep us posted - you'd be surprised at how many go through something similar or know someone that has, not just getting into the U.S. but into other countries as well. It's very frustrating.

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  13. I've been following your blog for a bit now, because I love your crocheting... When I saw your first post about being denied access to the US, my heart broke for you. It extra hurt to know it was "my" country that ruined your holiday... but I do want to tell you, it happens a LOT so don't take it too personal- if you can... They might figure it out, but they might not. I hope you share if you get answers!

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  14. I'm so sorry you encountered such rejection and frustration! It surely had nothing to do with what you did or didn't do, but rather with the limitations of a huge bureaucracy and its inherent flaws. Keep trying to get this straightened out, for your own peace of mind, and know that the people of the US are not rejecting you; some lines of misplaced computer code is all it takes to mess up the process! Try contacting the US Senator or Representative for your US family to see if he/she can assist; to help with such problems as this is one of the reasons they hold office.

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  15. It was a very ugly event you went through and I cant imagine how hard it was to see your kids leave. There was a void in the celebration and you were greatly missed. Love you dearly Annette x

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  16. This story breaks my heart. I cannot even begin to imagine how this felt. If you ever find out why, please let us know. Maybe you have the same name as someone on the 'no fly' list?

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  17. My Dear Annette,

    So, so sorry to hear what happened to you. It is truly unfair. I am an American and I love my country, but it seems logic and common sense are no longer prevailed. You have what our legal system recognizes as a long marriage with an American citizen. You would think one person from all the people you talked to would have taken a moment to look into it. I don't know, maybe the system is so convoluted, but still you did not deserve to be treated as such.

    It is over and you have your precious ones with you and that is all that matters. I am just worried that the lack of logic and common sense and decency will worsen after 1/20.

    All my love to you.

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  18. I was thinking of stolen documents, too. Is there a chance you had your personal documents stolen, even many years ago?
    Yiota

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  19. What a ridiculous situation. It's amazing to me that they won't tell you, the person affected, because it's confidential! That sounds like a very strange answer.

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  20. Oh noooo, that is just horrible!! I can understand how that must have felt. I would've been in total meltdown probably. I bet it will take a while to heal from this, stay strong!! X

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  21. My heart broke for you reading this! Two others have suggested this and I hope you and Jay follow through - his Senator or member of Congress, if not both! They have staffers who will work to resolve the problem. I'm glad the family is well! Stay strong Annette💐

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  22. Oh! I'm so, so very sorry that you missed your trip. And upset and feeling guilty that it was my country that you denied you entry. You handled the situation with much more grace and aplomb than I would have been able to muster up. I'm afraid I'd have had a meltdown right in the middle of the airport. I'm glad that the children were able to go and that they enjoyed Grandmother Flora's big day and spending time with far flung relatives. You were so brave to allow them to go without you. I think my fearful nature would have gotten the better of me.

    I hope the issue gets resolved soon so you can enjoy the next trip. It is probably a stupid computer glitch or some small, innocuous thing like a name that got transcribed incorrectly. Computers may be "smart" but they have no common sense and don't understand that Janle instead of Janel is a misspelling. A computer just sees it as invalid, incorrect data.

    Hugs from Louisiana!

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  23. I'm just speechless at what you've been through, and as a citizen of the US, I apologize. Some problems just make a person want to rip out their hair because they are so stupid...common sense has fled it seems.
    Obviously you are not a threat to anyone..you are a beautiful person so don't let the turkeys get you down! I might add how brave you were to set your kids free to enjoy the reunion and I'm so glad they had fun. I'm glad you did some fun things for you also. Peace to you!

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  24. Men gud vad FRUKTANSVÄRT för dig!!! Man blir ju mörkrädd när man läser vad du och din familj fick gå igenom utan en enda giltig anledning. Och det värsta är ju att de inte ger dig några svar så att du kan åtgärda det...! Vad jag lider med dig och jag förstår vilka stora sår du måste ha i själen att inte ha fått dela den underbara tiden ni har planerat med hela din mans familj. Fy vad hemskt! <3<3<3

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  25. I'm not sure I have the words. I've had some tears though, my heart just wretched when you had to send your kids on the plane and wave. It's just horrible. I don't think I would have had half your present of mind in the same situation, I think I would have fallen apart straight away! I hope that some how this situation can be resolved for you although what else you can try I don't know. Let's hope there are some wise souls reading that may have a clue as to what can be done for the future for you.

    S xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  26. Oh, dear dear Annette, I can't tell enough how I am sorry for all what happened to you and your family.. I don't even know what to say for you to feel better about it. I just hope that you don't give up and will be able to resolve this somehow as it is so incredibly unfair!!! I am glad you are all together know and thank you for sharing this story with us. I am sending a huge virtual hug to you!!! 😘

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  27. Oh my how absolutely awful for you . Not knowing why must be really worrying at you. I am so sorry you had to have all of that happen when you were all so excited about the holiday. I hope it will resolve itself. Here in UK we would seek help from our Member of Parliament - do you have someone similar that could step in and assist you? What about the Swedish Embassy in the US?
    I hope it is resolved soon xxx

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  28. My heart goes out to you. Such a big sucky thing to happen and especially at this time of year. Especially so random and without explanation. I'm glad your kids are ok.

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  29. What a horrible mess, I am so, so sorry for all of the=is. I fear this type of thing is only going to get worse now. When my oldest was little we had problems every time we flew as his name had too many letters in common with someone bad, not knowing of course who that was. HE was like 11 and every time we flew we had to meet with special people at the airport and show that he really was 11. It was ridiculous. We could not get him off that list for about a year until finally someone too pity on us and wrote in from the airlines that this was indeed a kid.

    I hope it gets resolved my friend.

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  30. What a sad story. And so unfair that you even can't get the information about what's wrong.

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  31. Oh Annette! This is so terrible! I felt so frustrated just reading how you have been unable to get an explanation - I can't imagine how this feels for you. Someone needs to tell you why this happened! It must be maddening to keep getting passed from one person to another, all with no answer!!
    I so hope this gets rectified soon.

    Debra

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  32. How can they NOT tell you why?? How can you ever resolve it, without knowing why? You're right...that IS the worst part. Ugh. I'm so sorry you had to go through that, but glad everyone is home safe. Hugs. xo

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  33. oh no... I shed so many tears for you, to be separated from your family I can not understand how this could happen, I am so terribly sorry xx
    Melissa

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  34. Your story is one more. I'm truly sorry.

    I don't dare go there again. Maybe I've said or written anything wrong. In times of surveillance everything is possible. I'd rather go to Russia.

    Take care! Regula

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  35. Dear Annette,
    I am an American and I'm so sorry this happened to you. Many years ago I knew of a French citizen who was denied entry into the US because he had traveled here too many times to see his fiancee. She flew there to see him, they got married, then Neither of them could come back! Bureaucracies, once they reach a certain size, become pretty much self-sustaining, I think. No human needed. Sigh.

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  36. Oh my goodness, you poor thing, no wonder you are so hurt. Thank goodness you had family and friends on hand to rally around and make sure you had a good time but to miss out on something planned for so long and to have to wave your kids of like that. I reall feel for you. This will leave you smarting for some time especially with no answers as to why. I hope you finally get it sorted so you can at least visit in the future X X

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  37. Hi Annette,I have just found your blog, it's lovely xx This is such an awful story. It must have been heartbreaking to wave your kids off and not going with them. I really hope you get to the bottom of this and that the once in a lifetime opportunity is made into a twice in a life time memory. xx

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  38. Oh Annette, my heart breaks for you! I hope things can be worked out soon.

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  39. sinceramente con el gobierno actual de eeuu,uno puede esperarse cualquier cosa,una vez mas veo que los nacionalismos extremos no llevan mas quew a la xenofobia y maltrato,lamento tanto lo sucedido.

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  40. Hi Annette,
    I have never commented on any of your blogposts before but I have been following you and loving your patterns for a while. I am so sorry it was such a horrible experience. We had something like this happening this Christmas and I am sorry to hear your end of the year wasn't great either. I hope you will get things sorted out, we had a lot of trouble at Philadelphia airport, so I feel you on this one..

    Take care :)

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  41. I've only just found this post hence my late reply. You have my empathy on this. My situation is different, but I want to share it as I believe you will understand and know that I do too. I was born in England and held a passport for many years. In 2007 my partner who I had been with for 20+ years died as we were planning our wedding. After his funeral I legally changed my surname to his. In 2014 I sold my house and decided to go on a cruise before my disabilities increased any further (I'm wheelchair bound). I applied to renew my passport and the nightmare began. Despite the fact that I had changed my name legally with a solicitor I had to go to another solicitor with mountains of paperwork to have my documents authorised. Then to a court to have a Judge ratify them. After weeks of running around and paying out £300 for documents and solicitors, Judge I was denied a UK passport! I also lost my £6000 cruise because I could not deal with the insurance. I felt like a non person. I am a British citizen yet I could not have a passport. I don't even dare to apply again. I hope that you have managed to get more answers and I am so sorry that this terrible thing happened to you. Lucy, Kent - England

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Thank you so much for visiting my world. I love reading your comments and I do my utterly best to respond to questions and sweet messages. Thank you again for popping by.

Kärlek
Annette

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