Unaccompanied Minor Traveling to US

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by HaveMilesWillTravel, Feb 3, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    The son of a relative is planning to visit us in the US. He's not a US citizen and will at the time of travel be 16 or 17 years old. He's been traveling internationally (incl. to the US) with his family, so he's not a complete newbie, but it would be his first trip abroad by himself. We plan to have him come on a non-stop flight to SFO.

    Question: other than standard immigration policies (ESTA), are there any special rules? Should we get some sort of letter from the parents explaining the purpose of his trip and their authorization for him to enter the US and stay with us?

    (I use the term "unaccompanied minor" in the title to describe that he's traveling by himself; not necessarily planning to have him travel as a registered unofficial minor with the airline)
     
  2. LIH Prem
    Original Member

    LIH Prem Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,666
    Likes Received:
    5,833
    Status Points:
    4,070
    medical power of attorney or whatever its called for the responsible adults in the USA?

    When children are traveling with one parent, the US generally requires consent letters from the other parent, I believe, but I have no idea what's required when they are traveling alone. Better check the web sites.

    -David
     
  3. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Thanks. Hadn't thought of that one. I'll also make sure he has insurance coverage for the US.

    The various US Embassy websites I looked at didn't seen to have much useful information. I did find this blurb on the CBP website:

    https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1254/kw/travel/related/1

    What should a parental consent/permission letter look like? Is there a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) form?
    There is not a CBP Form letter, however, the parental consent letter should include: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and contact information.
    Having the letter notarized is not necessary but recommended. For frequent border crossers the letter should not exceed one year. It is recommended to have the letter in English.
     
  4. LIH Prem
    Original Member

    LIH Prem Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,666
    Likes Received:
    5,833
    Status Points:
    4,070
    I couldn't find much either, and really was hard to find anything on the US Dept of State web site, but this was interesting:

    http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=308000

    I did a google search for "minors entering the US"

    I would look at the ESTA app also .. do minors qualify to use the ESTA?

    Is "certified" in Canada equivalent to "notarized" in the US?

    -David
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  5. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I would also check whether the airline has any special rules which could be stricter than the USA government requirements.
     
  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Good find! "certified" appears to indeed be the equivalent of notarized:

    http://www.voyage.gc.ca/preparation_information/consent-letter_lettre-consentement-eng

    "We strongly recommend that you have the consent letter certified, stamped or sealed by an official who has the authority to administer an oath or solemn declaration, e.g., a commissioner for oaths, notary public or lawyer, so that the validity of the letter will not be questioned. Note that regulations concerning the administration of oaths fall under provincial/territorial law and are not determined by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Furthermore, it is up to each official/individual who witnesses such a letter to decide what proof he/she needs to see to be able to witness/sign the letter. An official should only witness/sign a letter of consent if he/she is convinced that the individual requesting the letter is who he/she claims to be and that adequate proof has been provided."

    Here's a sample letter that I'll ask them to use:


    http://www.voyage.gc.ca/preparation_information/consent-letter_lettre-consentement_web-eng.asp

    The CBP has more info on this page:

    https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/268/kw/travel/related/1

    It seems that Canada is particularly strict about these consent letters:

    If a child (under the age of 19) is traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, what paperwork should the adult have to indicate permission or legal authority to have that child in their care?


    Due to the increasing incidents of child abductions in disputed custody cases and as possible victims of child pornography, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the adult have a note from the child's other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, or friends, a note signed by both parents) stating "I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so." See also our Q&A parental consent
    CBP also suggests that this note be notarized.
    While CBP may not ask to see this documentation, if we do ask, and you do not have it, you may be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed. If there is no second parent with legal claims to the child (deceased, sole custody, etc.) any other relevant paperwork, such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, death certificate, etc., would be useful.

    Adults traveling with children should also be aware that, while the U.S. does not require this documentation, many other countries do; failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry (Canada has very strict requirements in this regard).
     
    LIH Prem likes this.
  7. LIH Prem
    Original Member

    LIH Prem Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,666
    Likes Received:
    5,833
    Status Points:
    4,070
    I hope they are routing direct to the US. :)

    -David
     
  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Yup, I looked through the information on the web, and they (Air Berlin) do have an unaccompanied minor program for short and long haul flights. I'll give them a call for more details, though.

    Thanks for thinking of that. Looked into it:

    https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1199/kw/minors esta

    How to complete ESTA on behalf of my minor child?
    Yes, accompanied and unaccompanied children (regardless of age) require their own independant ESTA prior to their travels to the U.S being a citizen of a visa waiver country.
    If you are completing an ESTA application for a minor, you may check the second option on the Waiver of Rights section (For third parties submitting the application on behalf of the applicant...) You should understand the terms of ESTA on behalf of your child or children, and you should answer the questions and statements truthfully as their guardian.
    Those children listed on their parents passport do not qualify forESTA. Children must have their own (un-expired) passport in order to qualify for ESTA.






     
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Yes, it would be DUS-SFO (on Air Berlin).
     
  10. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I'm sure a 16-17 year old kid who has already traveled internationally would not want to go as an unaccompanied minor nd it would be unnecessary, assuming that he speaks English well, but since the airline must accept him and accept the documents, their rules could be more strict in terms of parental consent forms, for example.

    A friend of mine sent a well traveled 15 year old between the USA and India as an official unaccompanied minor and he hated it because they refused to let him stop to buy a newspaper or a bottle of water during his European connection. He also objected to being trapped in the kids' lounge with small children.
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Right, he doesn't need and wouldn't want a babysitter, and yes, he does speak/read English well. I am not worried about him finding his way onto their airplane or from the airplane to the CBP immigration checkpoint by himself. But I obviously don't want the CBP officer to give him a hard time or worse. So yes, having the right paperwork for both the airline and CBP is the goal here.

    I will probably drop by the CBP office at SFO before one of my own trips and see if I can get some verbal confirmation of their procedures/requirements.
     
  12. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Be sure he also has a cell phone that will work in the USA, some USA currency, and ideally a prepaid Visa or credit card for emergencies such a delay or diversion overnight en route. He might have to pay for a hotel room and meals in the worst case scenario.

    I think SOP if the CBP agent has concerns would be to call both the parents and the person meeting the minor, so try to stay reachable by cellphone.
     
    Dublin_rfk likes this.
  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Yup, I'd be waiting right outside customs, and I'd provide him with a US cellphone and make him either an authorized cardholder on one of my accounts or give him a prepaid VISA prior to his trip. He'll need that during his time here anyway. And I'll work through some of the unlikely but nevertheless possible scenarios with him prior to the trip.
     
  14. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    What a lucky kid! Seriously, the medical power of attorney or some sort of a temporary guardianship is important, as well as medical insurance. Most of the EU (I'm guessing) national health insurance schemes cover at least emergencies in other EU nations or where there's reciprocity, but do not otherwise cover foreign travel, except possibly in extreme emergencies visitors here would be treated in certain publicly funded hospitals/emergency rooms without payment or proof of insurance coverage.
     
  15. jmbrab

    jmbrab New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status Points:
    10
    Curious to know what happened as my 17yr old is in a similar situation this summer, did you have to acquire a notarised letter in the end - seems a bit overkill to me ? Did he get a hard time on entry to US?
     
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,504
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    No problems whatsoever. No one asked for a letter (he did have it), immigration was easy.
     

Share This Page