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I'm an F-1 student in the U.S. On Dec 28th last year, I left the U.S. temporarily for Japan, where I am a national.

Something was strange with the airport through which I flew out of the U.S. For one thing, there was no officials there to stamp my passport. Apparently this made me look suspicious to a custom official at the Japanese airport, who checked my baggage, something that does not happen always.

I am returning back to the U.S. very soon and I am expecting a similar hiccup at the U.S. airport (by the way, I am returning to the same airport). How can I minimize the possible damage? Is there something I should prepare? Is there something that I should avoid?

(For example, I carry my pillow around when I travel, and I do not want it to be ripped by officials to check the contents. I also carry similar childish items usually and I do not want to be embarrassed.)

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    It was no hiccup. The US does not examine or stamp passports of departing travelers. – phoog Jan 15 '16 at 14:59
  • The airlines report that you've left, not the stamp. This is not foolproof by any means, so I wonder why the US does it. – Stephen Eilert Jan 28 '16 at 0:30
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Unlike Japan, the US does not stamp your passport (and generally does not require any special procedure) upon exit. There is absolutely nothing abnormal here.

Do you know for certain that the Japanese customs inspector decided to inspect you because you had no exit stamp from the US? I find that difficult to believe, so unless you have very strong evidence, you should regard the two events as unrelated. Likewise, you are no more likely than any other person to be inspected when you are back to the US.

  • +1. Japanese customs officials inspect semi-randomly based on profiling of appearance, baggage and nationality. Based on my own experience, young students traveling solo (in this case, you) get picked, businessmen and people traveling with families don't. – jpatokal Jan 17 '16 at 9:17
  • @jpatokal That's my experience too, actually I got inspected both times I entered Japan as a student (and being a French citizen of Middle-Eastern descent and with two-week beard on top of it probably didn't help). Interestingly, I was not inspected when I entered as a tourist, but that was pre-2015. – fkraiem Jan 17 '16 at 16:13

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