WELCOME TO USA
STEP BY STEP TRAVEL TIPS
CHENNAI – SINGAPORE – LOS ANGELES
Disclaimer: I wrote it by recollecting whatever I remember since I traveled two years ago. So this is not a perfect guide. Please do not take this word for word. It may be used to get a general idea of what you can expect during your travel
SQ 409 Chennai (MAA - Anna Intl) to Singapore (SIN - Changi Intl)
11:35 PM 06:00 AM next day
SQ 12 Singapore (SIN - Changi Intl) to Tokyo (NRT - Narita)
09:40AM 05:05 PM
SQ 12 Tokyo (NRT - Narita) to Los Angeles (LAX - Los Angeles Intl)
06:15 PM 11:00 AM
1) Take passport and tickets. Keep them all the time in the handbag. Do not put them in any big suitcase or check-in baggage
2) Take about 50 to 100 US dollars. You can get them in the airport or any money exchange centers in India. You need to show them the passport and tickets to the dollars. Best thing is to get in the airport.
3) Take some Indian rupees preferably some change in 20’s or 50’s for making any last-minute purchases or tipping at Chennai airport.
4) Take a water bottle and some biscuits in the hand bag
5) Carry any emergency medicine, jandu balm, some cotton balls (to put in the ears) in the hand bag.
6) Pack check-in suitcases and tie them with rope. On each suitcase write name, address & USA phone number for identification. Make sure they weigh little less then the allowed weight limit. Check with the airlines the weight limit
7) Do not carry any Mangos, Fruits or vegetables.
8) Leave 3 to 4 hours early from home.
9) Carry a paper or diary with the following information
a. Home phone number in India
b. Cell Phone number in India
c. Any work phone numbers of your contacts in India
d. Home phone number in USA
e. Cell phone numbers in USA
f. Any work phone numbers in USA
g. Address in USA where you are going
AT CHENNAI AIRPORT
10) The big suitcases will be scanned as soon you enter Chennai airport and security clearance sticker will be pasted on the suitcases. The guys at that place will help you carry the big suitcases to the Singapore airlines check-in counter. They may ask some tips like 50 rupees.
11) At the Singapore airlines check-in counter
a. They will weigh the two big suitcases. They may charge a fee if the weight exceeds the limit.
b. Give the ticket and passport to them. Ask them for window seat or aisle seat depending upon your preference. Aisle seat the one near to the walk way which is easy to get out and go to the bath room. Also it is easy for relaxing the legs. Window seat will be little congested but it may be easy for resting the head and sleep.
c. They will take Chennai– to –USA portion of the ticket and give back the rest.
d. They will give two baggage stickers (each for one big suitcase) Keep them safe along with the ticket. This is the proof that you have checked in two big suitcases. They may ask this when you take the big suitcases out in Los Angeles.
e. These two big suitcases will arrive in Los Angeles. You can not take them out once they are checked in.
f. They will give Singapore airline name tags for the handbag and cabin baggage. Put them on the bags.
g. They will give two boarding passes. One is for Chennai-to-Singapore and another for Singapore-to-Los Angeles. Keep them safe. You need them to enter the flight.
h. There will be gate number and seat number printed on each boarding pass. You need to go to that gate for entering the flight.
i. Pick up the Embarkation form at the check-in-counter.
j. Before you leave the check-in-counter check your passport, tickets and boarding pass.
12) If you don’t have US dollars, you can get them now at the money exchange counter. Give the Indian rupees and show the passport/ticket to the person at the money exchange counter. They will make an entry in the passport and issue the dollars.
13) You may want to go back to the visitor area and say final byes now.
14) Fill up the embarkation form. It is only few lines which are very easy to fill. You need to give this to the immigration officer at the next stage. They will ask some standard questions like, do you have Green card, what visa you have, where are you going etc.
15) Next you need to enter the gate area where your cabin baggage and hand bag will be scanned. Also they check your body using metal detector or some person may check in person also. Do not carry any sharp items like knife or match box, etc. They might take them away or detain you.
16) Go near to your gate and wait in the chairs. They will start calling the seat numbers in batches like seat number 20 to 40 can enter now, etc. Once your seat range is called you can enter the flight.
17) You need to give the boarding pass to the person there. They will tear one portion of it and give back the small portion. You need to keep this safe. In this your seat number will be there.
IN THE FLIGHT (Chennai to Singapore Flight SQ409)
18) Air hostess at the flight door will show you to your seat.
19) Once you reach your seat keep the cabin luggage in the storage area located over the head. Ask the air hostess or a co-passenger for assistance if needed.
20) Keep the water in hand. It will take an hour before they start serving any food or water.
21) You may keep cotton balls in the ears during the flight. Some people ears are sensitive during the flight travel.
22) There will be blankets, pillows on the seat. You may use them as you please. It will be little cold inside the flight. There will be air conditioning adjustments located above the head. Ask the flight attendant or co-passenger about how to use them.
23) There will be a small TV located in front of your seat. Flight attendant will give out head sets. Ask the flight attendant or co-passenger about how to use them.
24) There will be paper bags in your seat front packets which you may use in case of any vomiting.
25) All the food & drinks are free inside the flight. Fell free to ask the flight attendant if you need anything at any time.
26) There will be a call button located in your hand rails or TV remote just in case if you want to call the attendant. Ask the flight attendant or co-passenger about how to use them.
27) They will serve water, juice and drinks in an hour. Shortly after that they will server dinner.
28) It will take about 4 hours to reach Singapore. You will reach Singapore about 6AM Singapore time.
29) Once the flight landed in Singapore, take your cabin baggage and your entire luggage. People will be rushing to get out. No need to rush out in a hurry. Please let others go. Take your time and verify all your belongings before you get out. You can not come back once you leave.
AT SINGAPORE AIRPORT
30) Good job. You have reached Singapore Airport. It is the best Airport I have seen so for. So please enjoy while you are here.
31) You have about 3 hours 30 minutes in this airport. This is plenty of time so no need to panic and hurry. Your flight leave about 9:40 Singapore time
32) You may want to change the time in your watch as per the time displayed in the airport clock or TV monitors.
33) Check your next boarding pass (Singapore–to-Los Angeles) for the gate number of the next flight (SQ 12). Some times the Gate numbers may change. So look for the gate number information in the TV monitors and confirm it. Go to that gate.
34) Ask any airport officers or the co-passengers traveled with you if you have questions. There will signs all over the airport about the gates. You may need to walk a little distance to reach the gate. Many of the passengers traveled with you will be also going to the same gate. So it is best to find one of them and make good company out of them.
35) There will be restrooms (toilets/bath rooms are called rest rooms in USA) near every gate. Fell free to brush up, wash face or use rest room. Taking bath is little difficult because you need to go to the shower rooms which you need to pay a fee. It could be time consuming. So just use perfume. You can take a nice long shower once you reach the final destination in USA.
36) If you are comfortable or got friends you may want to walk around the airport and see things
37) Find a telecom center where they will sell phone cards. Usually if you pay 5 US dollars you can get a 3 minute phone cards. It will be like a credit card wrapped in a plastic cover. There will be phones located all over the airport where you can use these cards. You need to un wrap the card from the plastic cover and insert them in the phone machine and the dial the number. Ask someone for assistance if you need.
38) For USA you need to dial 001 + Area code + phone number and for India you need dial 001+ 91+ STD code+ phone number. Since the 5 dollar card will only work for few minutes you want to talk quick and convey any message. You can buy more cards or more value cards if you need.
39) In Singapore you can use US dollars to buy anything. But they will give the change in Singapore dollars. Just keep them as souvenir or you can use them on your way back.
40) Go back to your gate one hour early like 8:30AM. They will start calling the passengers at this time.
41) They will scan you and your baggage one more time. There may be a small form to fill at this time. Do whatever others do.
42) You need your second boarding pass now. Once again they will tear a portion of the boarding pass and give a small portion to you.
43) The seat you are going to sit now will be different now, because it is a different flight. This will be your seat for the rest of the journey.
IN THE FLIGHT (Singapore-to-Tokyo (Narita) Flight SQ12)
44) Now you will be going to Japan Tokyo (Narita) airport. It will take about 6 hours 30 minutes for this journey.
45) All the procedure inside the flight is the same as before. People leaving at Tokyo will be filling some paper work. You don’t need to fill any paper at this time.
46) Once the flight lands in Tokyo you need to carry all your luggage including the cabin luggage and get out of the plane. They will clean the flight, re fuel and change the flight attendants, etc.
AT TOKYO-NARITA AIRPORT
47) It will be a 1 hour stop over at Tokyo
48) Once you walk out they will be calling for transit passengers. You need to follow them.
49) They may give you color card or put some sticker on your shirt identifying you as a transit passenger.
50) You will be boarding the same flight again. So follow the transit crowd or signs to the same flight (SQ12) gate.
51) There will be rest rooms near by the gate which you may use.
52) There is nothing good in this airport to buy. So you don’t need to spend anything.
53) If you want to collect Japan currency you may give one US dollar at some shop and get change or buy small candy or something.
54) Once the call your seat number, board the flight and go back to your same seat.
IN THE FLIGHT (Tokyo –to- Los Angeles (LAX) Flight SQ12)
55) This will be your longest part of this journey which will take about 10 hours.
56) Towards the end of the journey you will be given with I-94 Arrival Record form and Customs form. Fill both of them clearly. You can ask your co-passenger or flight attendant for any questions.
57) I-94 is the real visa that the officer will stamp regarding how many days you are going to stay. Write your USA address in the I-94 form.
58) Your flight will land about 11AM Los Angeles time.
59) Once the flight landed, take all your belongings and proceed to the immigration check point. Follow your co-passengers.
AT LOS ANGELES AIRPORT
60) Wait in the non-immigrant line patiently. It may take an hour for you to reach the officer.
61) Give your passport, I-94 form and return ticket to the officer
62) He might ask, which country you are from, why are you coming to USA, whom you are going to see, how long you want to stay etc. Answer all the questions politely.
63) You may want to stay that you have return ticket for 6 months and ask for 6 months visa. Don’t argue if they didn’t give 6 months visa.
64) They will put a stamp on the I-94 with your stay end date. Verify that information and make sure it is correct.
65) Next you need to go and collect your baggage. There will be many circular belts in which the bags will be coming out of the plane. Go to the one for the Singapore flight SQ12. Ask anyone which is the right one or follow your co-passengers.
66) There will be pushing carts in that area. Take one with you.
67) Ask the uniformed airport staff standing there to help you with the baggage. They will help you to collect the bags. They may even carry it outside where we can pay them some tip.
68) Take the cart to the customs and agricultural check area. They will collect the customs form. They may ask questions about any foods, fruits, plants or vegetables you are carrying. They may open and check the bags
69) Once that is over you can come out where you will be received by your relatives.
70) Congratulations! You made it. Welcome to United States.
6 Welcome Tips for Indians in US
It was my first month in US, and I had already lost my precious pressure cooker to the dishwasher. It used to be shining black, and now it is so dull that even a scrap dealer would frown. Every time, I used to visit the grocery stores, getting puzzled by zillions of options became a routine. Trudging my way through the countless isles, and swarming my cart with awesome products gave me a sense of accomplishment. But soon I realized it was an illusion as most of the items either hijacked my precious closet space or ended up in trash can (It’s called a trash can here, not a dustbin).
Do you want this to be your story too? I’m guessing the answer is No. From cooking to cleaning, it’s a mind boggling job for the first-time Indians in the US.
Following our ambitions, we sail to the land of opportunities leaving behind the luxuries of maids, drivers and mouthwatering Indian cuisines. Fitting in the ‘do it yourself’ culture of US is an intricate job one has to master. Below I’m sharing my hard learned experiences with the intentions of saving you the hard part. I wish I had known them four years back, when I first arrived here.
1. Dishwasher – Usually a life savior, but a death penalty to Indian, hard anodized, pressure cookers
Pressure cooker is one of the most precious cooking tools for us, and most of us carry at least one. Since having a maid is a forgotten dream in US, we see a dishwasher as a life savior and in desperation we try to load it with everything that can fit in, including our cooker. Soon the cooker starts losing its sheen and with repeated washes it transforms into an eyesore. In no time our beloved item becomes our embarrassment. The only plausible approach to escape this dreadful fate is manual cleaning. It seems daunting at first, but the rewards are worth it.
2. Grocery Shopping
The meticulous arrangement of departmental stores makes purchasing look like a child’s play. But in practice the availability of an array of options for every single item soon becomes a nuisance, and leaves us stunned and gasping for help. Also, due to our limited knowledge on US lifestyles we often feel embarrassed to seek assistance, which leads either to a wrong purchase or no purchase at all.
To save the trouble, a little homework goes a long way. Making a detailed purchase list, reading about available options and other customer reviews equips you with the information that would never go waste. Initially the process might be time consuming, but soon you would turn pro. This extra work would make you choose the items which are ‘RIGHT FOR YOU’, save your time and aid you with the right questions to ask for help. With this practice of exploring the unknown options, who knows you might find something extraordinary your acquaintances are still unaware of.
3. Bathroom cleaning
Sparkling white bathroom is something everyone desires. But cleaning a bathroom is both an arduous and a humdrum job. Hence, the task tops in our procrastination list. Fortunately, to make the job a little easier there are highly powerful cleaning products available in the market. Options like Windex, Kaboom, Lysol do wonders, but they need to be used with extra caution as they might be too harsh on eyes and minor spills (especially Kaboom and Lysol) would bleach clothes or rugs in no time. For toilet basin, the bleach tablets from Clorex are not be missed.
For extra vigilant, environment-friendly, and especially for families with kids, products with natural ingredients are true blessings. These products are rationally strong on stains, but easy on senses. Expenditure on these products is something you would never regret.
4. Bathtub cleaning
Mere thinking about a warm cozy bubble bath enlightens our senses. At the same time the idea of cleaning the bathtub gives us goosebumps. To tackle this white elephant, recently certain shower cleaners have entered the market. If they are sprayed daily they significantly delay the need of scrubbing.
5. Sales are for real
Unlike the tricked sales in our country, which are merely a mockery - soar the original prices, advertise fake sales and finally sell the items at original prices; the sales here are a big money saver. Different stores host major sale events during different times of the year, especially on holidays and special occasions. So keep your eyes open and hold on to your temptations till the next sale hits the stores.
Thanksgiving sales are not to be missed.
6. Save your purchase receipts
Bewildered, stunned and tired of reading labels and rummaging through indefinite aisles, we finally make our selections. But probability of making a wrong choice is still not low. Worry Not! the easy return policy aids us with a safety net against our incorrect moves.
There are highly customer friendly stores too which don’t even bother for the receipts, but there are some, especially the Indian stores, which are too strict about them. Hence, develop a habit of saving the receipts, especially for the uncertain purchases and shop tension free.
Hope it will make your transition phase quick and pleasant.
I have US B1/B2 Visa. I will be going for conference in this month in Florida and wish to with my family for tourism. We have two children 10 and 9 years. My wife and the children does not have any US Visa. My wife is not working (housewife) me and children vacation comes together in these month when I will be going conference. So we have to spend 3 weeks of it in the US. My employer will pay for our flight ticket including leave allowance. As am working General Manager in that Company.
Since I already have a US B1/B2 Visa, do I need to apply together with my wife and children again. How you rate their chances of getting a visa. Again I will appreciate any constructive criticism and suggestions that will increase our chances of getting a visa . Thank You.
No matter how many articles I read and how many YouTube Videos I saw, I never knew these small things which I understood only after staying here for a month. Often at times I was too scared to do something cause of the fear of looking Stupid, But well I lived and learnt.
1. LAW: America is a great place but be sure to follow the law. You cannot bribe an officer right and left if you commit a crime and If you are convicted. Be sure to end in a jail or deported right back. ( This I didn't have to go through fortunately :) ) Every state has a different law. Would advice to know the basic laws of the state if you get a chance.
2. ARRIVING Getting a VISA does not guarantee an entry to United States. When you reach there you will have to go through an Immigration or Customs and Border Patrol Officer. He /She needs to be sure you are entering for valid reasons as allowed as per your VISA. So be sure to be genuine. If they suspect anything, they have the Authority to Send you right back to INDIA or where ever you are coming from on the next flight.
3. Your check-in luggage is available after CBP checkpoint so in case you have any imp documents which you might need to show the CBP officer , keep them with you in your cabin baggage.
4. FOOD: Large Departmental stores are available and so are fast food places. If you need to save money go to a Dunkin Donut, Its everywhere or a Wal-Mart. You might also find prepacked Indian food at Wal-Mart just double the prices but still RAJMA CHAWAL! Can't miss it. Also visit a super mart to stock up once you are there. You can get buy comfortably on $25-30$ for whole day of food . 15$-20$ if you don't want to have a large meal.
5. MONEY. If you are planning to carry cash when u travel locally buy one of those prepaid cards.( NOT GIFT CARDS but called as RELOADABLE CARDS) However be ADVISED you cannot reload them no matter what they say. All of them need a SSN for registration which we don't have so load it once and use it. You will also not be able to use it online. So buy one for 500$ in cash. It will take anywhere between $1-$5 activation fees. On Swiping it select it as Credit card. I have used AMEX Serve and it works great. they don't charge for every transaction like a lot do. Most places would frown upon on accepting a $100 bill some even a $50 as its not trusted cause of fake currency. Carry majorly $1 and $5 and some $10 & $20 notes. Don't carry more than $200 on your person at a time. Until you are shopping freak , You can buy most of the things for your need in that amount. Your Indian AMEX, MasterCard and Visa Credit and Debit Card works here. They don't ask for PIN when swiping. Make sure to select it as Credit card. Also if you are using an Indian card there will be 3-5% markup charge by your Indian bank for currency conversion.
6.LIVING.- Most hotels for budget travelers in USA work with very less staff like HOLIDAY INN or MARIOTT's Low priced venture Fairfield INN . The rooms are well equipped and most have a refrigerator and coffee machines. They do serve Breakfast but after that the kitchen shuts down. So you can't really order anything for food. Make sure you are well stocked for food or you have a place to go out and dine. Also make sure to check before opening your door. Most Budget hotels don't have guards to check who is coming in all the time.
7. PHONE & COMMUNICATION. Your Indian phone and Android phone will work here. If you are getting a Local SIM get a T-Mobile or GSM sim. They are cheap and the net is super fast. I went for T-mobile $60 plan with unlimited monthly calling and 5GB data cap. YUP THEY CAP TOO! Also the cheapest way I have found is using Google Voice. It cost 1Cent a minute to call INDIA. There are other providers too but well for 10$ you will have 1000 minutes/16hours. You can load it up through your Google wallet.
8. MANNERS. Americans are very polite people. They don't like screaming and shouting. So be courteous to whoever and start saying THANK YOU to even your rickshawala or maid for practice before coming here. No matter if you are a fresher or a CEO trust me everyone is same here. They respect you for working not for throwing your weight around. So if you eat on a fast food or serve yourself place do clean your table after you eat and if you drop anything, pick it up and throw it in the dustbin. Also once again I cannot emphasize the importance of being polite. Also keep the phone on low ring volume or vibration.
9. BE SAFE : Don't go in the night walking in shady neighborhoods. The Police works great but well why take the risk. Don't carry large amount of cash. Also always carry a colored copy of your Passport as long as the original is nearby or locally. I scanned , shrieked, printed and laminated mine to fit it in my wallet. If you are travelling carry the original. Also most public places are strict NO SMOKING. But most have a place outside for it.
10. TIPS, A 15-20% is a standard for tipping is expected in restaurants, taxis and most places where they offer your service. The servers work hard and are mostly college students, so they make it through tips.
11. GETTING AROUND. I would not advise people going for a short trip( Up to a month) to go renting a car. For one no matter how good a driver you are you will never get used to the right side driving concept in a short time. If at all, possible use UBER ( CHECK ONLINE FOR UBER COUPONS) or local taxis or public transportation. Not all places have great public transportation. Check for it before you go. If at all you do have to rent go for Enterprise car rental some do or some don't accept your Indian Driving License but they do accept an International Driving License which can be procured in India from your RTO. They are the Cheapest. Also if you have to travel locally by Air, the Security checkpoint is manned by TSA agents. You will be asked to remove your watch, shoes, belt, wallet, phone, passport, keys, change well everything apart from your clothes. So do it before getting in line to speed up. Before every trip empty your cabin baggage and rearrange so to make sure you are not carrying any prohibited items. Don't cross roads as we do back home from anywhere. There is a dedicated pathway on a crossing for that. It took me some time to understand how it works.
12. Don't make any political comments on Religion or Ethnicity of someone in a public place, you not only will be stared upon but if someone report you, you might get into trouble. Don't go out approaching strangers either for bhaichara. Most don't like it.
13. If you are one of that Do-it-Yourself kind of guy or a girl Do make sure to visit Home Depot or Lowes. Your creative buds will turn on like anything.
14. COUPONS & SAVING MONEY: Be vigilant and search online or local news paper for coupons. you will be amazed how much you save with them. Also install a bar code scanner. you can scan it in the store and search it online so you will know if you are saving. Most stores also offer price match guarantee. If you show them something sold anywhere even online same thing at lower prices.
15.. No matter if you are a fresher or a CEO trust me everyone is same here. They respect you for working not for throwing your weight around. So if you eat on a fast food or serve yourself place do clean your table after you eat and if you drop anything, pick it up and throw it in the dustbin. Also once again I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being polite.
16. ELECTRONICS. Most laptop and mobile charges work right as they are here as they are designed for ( 85~265V AC) You just need a US plug convertor. Get one before you arrive. They are cheap in India.
17. Things to carry from India for your stay: America is a very clean place so don't carry a lot of clothes. Seriously! A pair of jeans can go unwashed for 2 Weeks. Also anyone carrying a large suitcase locally looks silly. Check out those minimalist packing videos on YouTube. They do help a lot. Your electronics, Chargers, Money, Copies of passport in every bag, Cards. Things you are bringing for gifting your or your friend's brother sister or relatives. Some prepacked food ( If you have space left. Try those MTR ones they taste great) . Never carry anything for someone t be given here without asking them what it is. You might be held at airport and your baggage searched and if you say you don't know, well u might get into trouble.
Well there seems to be a long list of Don'ts so on a positive side have a great trip take loads of pictures and enjoy your American Adventure. Do let me know if I can be of any help.
I've had my interview at the US Embassy for EB3 visa on April 8, 2014. As of September 20111, I have received an employment letter from the hospital i will employed in through my agency White Glove based in New York. During the interview, the consulate saw my sponsor then he told me this is not a good agency and recommended that i find another agency. At first, I brushed it off my mind until they're looking for an updated employment letter in short i was not able get my the visa. So i told the agency everything and until such that until now they have not given me employment yet. They always say the same thing that the hospital was going to undergo JCAHO then between June to July i found out from them that the hospital has given up on me. Until now White Glove have not provided me any employer. What will I do it is already one year since my interview and my current date is January 2007. Help please!
Im currently travelling through the US on the Visa waiver program (90 day tourist visa) and am unsure as to whether i am allowed to apply for a working visa via a prospective employer DURING travel or do i have to go home after the 90 days and then apply??
Need help to find consulate for H1B Visa Interview
which consulate is the best consulate to attend H1B visa interview?
In my I797-B petition, I can see consulate as Chennai.
Do I need to attend the visa interview at Chennai or any where in india?
which consulate is better for H1b visa interview Chennai or Hyderabad?
I'm having a B1/B2 visa with my current company. For B1 visa interview, I went to Chennai for stamping.
Do I need to go the same consulate Chennai for H1B interview as well?
Could you please help me with your suggestions.
based on your response, I will fill the DS-160 form and book a slot.
Please help me. It is very urgent.
I heard that Chennai is the best consulate for L1 visas.
which consulate is the best consulate to go for H1B visa interview?
I have received my B1/B2 visa good for 10 yrs however my name is listed on the passport as (Surname-BLANK + Given name-XXXXX YYYYY) however on the visa its listed as (Surname-YYYYY+ Given name-XXXXX). I would be traveling to US this month and want to ensure that I don't run into any issues there. Could you please advise if I would dace any problem in the United State while I would be on B1/B2 visa for short period of time? Any info you would be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Best Regards
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