Featured News 2013 Entry into the United States

Entry into the United States

While the government shutdown could have an effect on pending immigration issues, if you already have your visa, then some things will not have changed. This includes entering the United States. Most workers for Customs and Border Protection will still be at their jobs when you come into the country, either at the border or an airport. The process may take a bit longer than usual, but even before the shutdown, entry into the country could be a lengthy process. This was and is true regardless of the fact that you have perfectly up-to-date, valid paperwork. In order to make this process go as smoothly as possible, here are some tips on how to prepare for passing through customs.

Be ready with your passport and visa documents, as a CBP officer will need to look through them all. Your name will also be run through databases. This part could take a while. Then an officer could ask you almost anything he or she feels like, and if for any reason they are unconvinced about the honesty of your plans in coming into the U.S., the officer can keep you out of the country, send you back home, and bar you from coming back to the United States for five years. So it is imperative that you stay polite and composed. You can also prepare for the more common questions that could be coming your way, such as:

  • Why are you visiting the United States?
  • Where will you be staying?
  • Who will you be visiting?
  • How long will your stay be?
  • How much money are you bringing?
  • Have you visited the United States before? If you have, then did you stay longer than you were allowed?
  • How many times have you visited the United States before?

There is a reason for asking each of these questions, and there are certain answers that an officer will be looking out for. Mainly, an officer wants to make sure that someone is not trying to break any law, and that a person's answers align with what is on the visa. Take the first question, about the purpose of your visit. An officer will send someone away for saying that they are trying to find work when what they have is a tourist visa. An officer will also want to ensure that you have plans in place for where you will stay. A lack of plans could lead to more questions and might make the officer wary about letting someone through. As for the question about finances, an officer is checking to make sure that you have enough to cover your stay. The final question is ascertaining whether or not someone is abusing a nonimmigrant visa by continually coming to the United States, a practice which could bar them from the country.

Besides questioning, you will need to be ready for an officer to look through your things. Officers can conduct this search whether you want them to or not. They will be looking for anything that seems to go against your visa. This means that if you have a tourist or student visa, you should not be carrying a book on how to become a U.S. citizen, or you cannot have a folder with job résumés and applications. You could have these innocently enough. You might be planning to use your visa legally and then to obtain immigration status while you are in the country, but this may not be something that an officer will be ready to accept. You do not want to give any idea whatsoever that you will be trying to do more than your visa allows.

Also, even if you have a permit to carry a firearm in your country, you cannot bring it into the United States. You want to make sure that there is nothing else in your luggage that would get you sent home, such as drugs, pornography, or any vegetation and animals that are barred from coming into the United States.

It is also important to understand that if there are any complications that come up during the interview or search, you will not be able to call an immigration attorney for help. However, you might be able to get a hearing with an immigration judge if you are seeking asylum. If you think there might be any issues with entering the United States, call an attorney before you come to a port of entry. If you have any further questions about entry into the U.S., or if you need help understanding how the government shutdown would affect any immigration processes, then please do not hesitate to contact an experience immigration attorney.

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