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What to do if Stopped by Immigration When Entering the United States

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, we are going to be discussion as the title suggests, what should one expect if one is being stopped by Immigration Authorities at an entry point in the United States. For the most part this is going to pertain basically to non US citizens travelling into the United States being questioned by Officers with United States Customs and Border Protection Service, USCBP. This question actually, I won’t say it arises often, but I think it is one that more people should probably pose to themselves when going in to the United States especially those who are on non-immigrant visas such as tourist visas, that have kind of muddled intentions as to what they are going to do once they are inside the US. 

So let’s start where we need to start and that is, a foreign national travels to the United States, they  present their passport along with presumably a relevant travel visa and the Customs and Border Protection Officer can make a decision as to whether or not to admit the individual, turn the individual away, question the individual further. In the event of being questioned further, generally speaking, this type of questioning is going to occur “on the record”.  It is very much akin to being put on stand in a trial for example. One will often be told that they are basically “answering under oath”, and for that reason one’s answers can be used essentially against them.  This is the reason why as a general rule,  it is always best to tell the truth when dealing with any tribunal or officer of the US Immigration apparatus, be that a US Customs and Border Protection Officer, US ICE Officer, USCIS Officer or a Consular Officer at a US Immigration or Consulate Office abroad.

But now when getting questioned about what one is doing, nobody is going to be ultra-comfortable dealing with authorities generally. It is never a comfortable place to be questioned by officers in a Governmental capacity. So don’t be upset if you are nervous, but basically, the big thing to keep in mind is to tell the truth.  With respect with one’s travel intentions, be able to concisely explain what one is doing in the United States. If one is coming in on a tourist visa and they are looking to work, they are coming illegally; don’t come at all is the answer to that. This video is not designed to figure out how to cleverly say something to US Customs and Border Protection to get in and fool them or something. NO! One should not be travelling to the United States in an immigrant or in a visa that one is not within the intended parameters, okay? One shouldn’t be entering the United States in a tourist visa in order to go to work. One shouldn’t be entering the United States with a tourist visa in order to get married and remain. That is arguably fraud. It also grounds for, and this leads me to my next thing with respect to travelling in the United States, it is possibly grounds for expedited removal. Expedited removal is a procedure that was created under the IRAIRA Act. It was created basically in an amendment to the Immigration Act and basically it allows for a sort of truncated deportation hearing wherein the US Customs and Border Protection Officer can make a determination whether or not this individual should be subject to expedited removal and in most cases if they are determined to be subject to expedited removal, they are going to be barred from re-entering the United States for a minimum of 5 years thereafter. And if there is further findings, like fraud and misrepresentation etc., there could be further grounds of inadmissibility which could lead to a further ban from going into the United States which could maybe only remedied through use of an I-601 waiver, an I-212 waiver, etc.  These are the kind of things that may be used to remedy these types of things that can occur just in the interview at the point of entry in coming to the United States.  These are very much worst case scenarios. In many, many case especially involving people coming in to the United States on tourist visas without the proper intentions, oftentimes the immigration officers, at least in my experience, will allow the individual to “voluntarily” depart. A voluntary departure is sort of a “No harm, No foul”. You didn’t get in. we had issues with you at the border, we didn’t quite believe what you were saying and we allowed you to voluntarily departure. In those circumstances unlike expedited removal, voluntary departure may not and probably won’t result in immigration ramifications that have a long lasting impact; most notably being barred from re-entering the United States.

So the thing to take away from this video, first of all, when encountering anyone from the Immigration Apparatus; tell the truth. Tell them what you are doing.  Don’t try to lie, don’t try to obfuscate, don’t try to be sneaky, don’t try to be smart, in the sense of don’t try to be cunning and get around the system.  It is not wise.  Generally speaking, in my experience, it only leads to worse consequences. Don’t go the United States on a visa you don’t have the proper intentions for.   If you are going to the US on a tourist visa, if you are using a tourist visa to go to the United States and you are going there for the purpose of adjusting status; that is immigration fraud. You are not going in a non-immigrant capacity, you are immigrating.  There is a specific section for excluding individuals of that nature.

Again, that is another thing to take away from this. Tell the truth, use your visa correctly and finally be aware of the results and consequences of not telling the truth and of using documentation that one is not really meant to be using can result in substantial and rather stiff penalties under the immigration laws.