Perils at airport inspection


All aliens (including alien crewmen) who are applicants for admission or otherwise seeking admission or readmission to or transit through the United States shall be inspected by immigration officers – that’s the law.  A call to our office several days ago reflects the growing apprehension by many U.S. visitors and residents alike as they pass through inspection. The caller stated that his 68 year old mother was ordered to secondary detention. She was then informed that she would be sent back because of a previous immigration violation.

For visitors and resident aliens, every landing in any U.S. airports becomes an application for admission.  All applicants for admission are subject to inspection. If the officer determines the applicant to be inadmissible, the law gives the officer the authority to remove the alien from U.S. soil. Inadmissibility is a legal term for denying your entry into the U.S. After interviewing the caller we determined that since his mom overstayed in the U.S. several months ago, the chances for admission were dim. We tried to speak with airport inspectors but they avoided our calls.  The visitor had no choice but to return to China.

In yet another episode,  a green card holder who has been away from the U.S. for over six months called us after intense interrogation at the San Francisco Airport. Inspectors threatened to confiscate his green card. After we intervened, he was referred to the local immigration office for further questions. During our meeting with inspection officers, we explained that our client was not aware of the strict immigration laws. After an hour of discussion, the officer returned his green card. He was lucky. Many others are denied.

Resident aliens who depart from the U.S. for longer than six months are subject to closer scrutiny at airports.  This is a common mistake.  If one is to be out for more than a year, one must apply for a re-entry permit before departure.  But even with a re-entry permit immigration agents insist that admission is not guaranteed.  It helps if one maintains employment in the U.S., properties and/or assets, family, and a residence.

Another caller was detained for more than five hours at the airport.  The experience was grueling.  The, not so friendly inspectors, questioned him about his trips, family members, and properties.  His entire immigration history was questioned.  Luckily he was able to call us from his cell phone before they ordered him to turn it off.

It’s appalling that public education is lacking on this subject.  Some suggested that this is by design to crackdown on violators.  Our attorneys will be meeting with agents from the Department of Homeland Security and other expert attorneys from all over the country during our annual convention in Vancouver British Columbia.  We hope to get answers as to what people can do to prepare or avoid a secondary interview at the airport.  In the meantime, its best to see an attorney before traveling abroad if you think that you may have an immigration issue.

Johnson Lazaro has been practicing law for over 25 years. For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email: [email protected]   This article should not be taken as legal advice.  This is not meant to create a lawyer-client relationship.