If you are at the border


Q: What can I do to prepare before the coming to the U.S.?
A: Because you are not allowed to use cell phone at the border, you can text your attorney or your family/friend right after you get off the plane (and before the custom border). Text them again when you pass the custom border and are granted admission. That way, even if you cannot use cell phone during prolonged questioning, your attorney/family/friend can still know whether you have a problem or not. Also, if you do not want your social network being examined by the agent, you can logout of your social network and clean up your photos/messages and keep the data as minimum as possible. Lastly, always be very clear why you have come to the U.S. for. If you are here with an immigrant visa, review your immigrant visa application once again. If you are here with a non-immigrant visa, review your visa application and be able to explain the purpose of your trip. The officer will be looking to make sure that you will leave the US at the end of your trip.

Q: What is the purpose of all of these questions?
A: There are several purposes the first is to find out whether you fit into one of the inadmissibility grounds. The second to determine whether you are eligible for the visa that you are carrying. Third if they believe that you obtained your visa based on false or misleading information or if you have no documents or false documents they will return you without giving you a hearing.

Q: What if I have a fear of being returned to my country.
A: All persons who have a fear of persecution, are entitled to be interviewed separately to determine if they have a “credible fear.” The interview should be conducted by a specially trained asylum officer.

    The immigration officer will not ask you if you have a fear, you must tell them that you would like to apply for asylum protection.

Q: What are the differences in the rights as between US citizens, returning lawful permanent residents, immigrants and nonimmigrant (and others) at the border?
A: Citizens cannot be denied admission as long as they are able to show that they are in fact citizens. Possession of a valid U.S. passport is sufficient to establish US citizenship. A US citizen cannot be denied admission to the US, but they are still subject to other laws, such as criminal statutes or other restrictions.

Lawful permanent residents are subject to the immigration laws and they must be inspected at designated ports of entry. They are entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge to determine if they should be admitted. When they arrive at a port of entry they should present their (green card) proof of permanent residency.

Persons arriving with an immigrant visa must present themselves for inspection before an immigration officer. They are entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge if the officer at inspection believes that they are not admissible to the U.S. they should get a hearing.

Nonimmigrants who arrive either without documents or documents obtained through fraud or misrepresentation may be denied admission without a hearing. As long as they have no claim to US citizenship or were previously admitted as a lawful permanent resident. (However someone with an immigrant visa should be able to have a hearing unless they are being denied admission because of a fraud or misrepresentation in how they obtained their visa.)

Q: Can I be denied admission without a hearing?
A: Yes. If the immigration officer believes that you lied or provided false or misleading information in getting your visa or if you arrive with no documents you could be returned without a hearing. (If you fear returning to your country your case will be handled differently and you will have a chance to explain your case to an asylum officer in what is called a “credible fear” interview.)

Q: Will I be protected by the U.S. Constitution?
A: Unfortunately, if you are at the border, because you have not yet entered into the United States, therefore you have limited protections under the U.S. Constitution. However these limitation on your rights only relate to the immigration laws. Therefore you will have more protections from the application of criminal law. You only have limited rights. Here are some of the rights you have:

Q: Do I have the right to remain silent?
A: You always have the right to remain silent. However, officials may deny your entry to the U.S. or detain you for further searching or questioning if you do not answer questions.

Q: What will happen if I provide false information?
A: The immigration laws provide additional and long lasting consequences for those who provide false information to gain admission or an immigration benefit. It is better to remain silent than to lie. Providing false information could also constitute a separate criminal offense.

Q: May a DHS officer search my belongings (my properties such as bags and luggage)?
A: Although CBP does have right to search your belongings, they should not damage personal property during inspection.

Q: Does officer has the right to search my phone, camera, or other electronic devices?
A: CBP has the right to search your phone, camera, or other electronic devices in a reasonable amount of time and return the device. You do not have to give your device’s password to the officer, but refusal may lead to prolonged questioning, detention of you or your devices. Remember to ask for Form 6051-D custody receipt if your device is detained. Officers are not allowed to delete any information from you phone/camera.

Q: If the officer does search my belongings, is there any search manner that the officers should follow?
A: CBP’s policy requires that the searches be conducted in a manner that is safe, secure, humane, dignified and professional. CBP Officers are not permitted by their own policy to use excessive force.

Q: Do I have the right to speak to an attorney?
A: It depends on your status.
Once you are detained — you have the right to speak to an attorney. The government will not provide you with a lawyer but you may ask for a list of free legal service providers along with their phone numbers. Under no circumstances should you sign anything before speaking to an attorney.
If you are subjected to prolonged questioning — you may have the right to have your attorney. You can ask the officer politely if you can speak to your attorney. You have to pay for your own attorney.
If it is a short period questioning – you do not have the right to have your attorney.

Q: Can I contact my family?
A: You have the right to contact a family member when you are detained and subjected to prolonged questioning.

Q: Do I need to sign any documents before speaking to an attorney?
A: You should not be required to sign anything before speaking to an attorney.

Q: If I am a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), do I need to sign any documents to give up my green card before leaving the border? Does the officer have the right to take away my green card?
A: You do not have to sign a form to give up your green card. The officer does not have the right to take away your green card.

Q: What can I do if I believe that I am being mistreated?
A: Ask to speak to a supervisor, and make sure you get the name and badge number of the officer. So you can write a complaint later.

Please see the following articles for more information: