I'm flying to New York later today and, for the first time, have had to apply to the US Department of Homeland Security for clearance in advance under its ESTA scheme (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
An unexpected bonus was that I've at last got my hands on a copy of the ridiculous questions I've previously had to answer (in a state of total bemusement) during the flight - as I've often wished I could photocopy them to show to my American friends.
This is because fellow passengers who are US citizens don't have to complete such forms and therefore have no idea of the sheer absurdity of the questionnaire that we foreigners are busy filling in to prepare for our encounter with passport control on arrival.
Now that I've had to do it online, I'm finally able to share it with those of you who pay the taxes that enable your government to pursue such penetrating investigations on your behalf.
You might also like to know that the hard-copy version, which was never handed out until flights were well on their way across the Atlantic, included the helpful instruction that, if any of the answers was 'Yes', we should report immediately to our local US embassy.
Do any of the following apply to you? (Answer Yes or No)
A) Do you have a communicable disease; physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict? YES/NO
B) Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or have been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or have been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities? YES/NO
C) Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved, in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies? YES/NO
D) Are you seeking to work in the U.S.; or have you ever been excluded and deported; or been previously removed from the United States or procured or attempted to procure a visa or entry into the U.S. by fraud or misrepresentation? YES/NO
E) Have you ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child? YES/NO
F) Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry into the U.S. or had a U.S. visa canceled?YES/NO If YES, when and where?
G) Have you ever asserted immunity from prosecution? YES/NO
P.S. To these, I would like to add two more questions of my own:
H) Do you think anyone in their right mind would expect persons involved in moral turpitude and the like to answer 'Yes' to any of these questions? YES/NO
I) Do you think that the printing, distribution, collection and processing of these questionnaires is a valuable use of US taxpayers' money? YES/NO