7 Tips If You Are Denied Entry Into the United States

7 tips if you are denied entry into the United States

There are several reasons why people are denied entry into the United States, which can include being turned away at the airport by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. This can be embarrassing and inconvenient on your part. In this article, you will learn why you would be denied entry, what to do if you are denied entry,  and how to prevent being denied entry. Talk to a reliable immigration attorney if you are denied entry to the US. 


Why Am I Denied Entry into the US?

According to the Department of Homeland Security website, you may be ineligible or denied entry to the US for any of the following 9 reasons:

  1. You have a record of having worked illegally in the US or you may be suspected of planning to work in the USA illegally.
  2. You are suspected of having connections with terrorists or criminal organizations. 
  3. If you failed to present sufficient documentation. Some border control officials ask for proof of ties to your country of origin to make sure you do not plan on illegally immigrating to the US.
  4. If you have medical issues you may be denied entry like you are sick with a “communicable disease” or have a “physical or mental disorder that may cause harm to others. Or you have other issues such as drug addiction, alcohol-related illness, or even incomplete vaccinations.  Sometimes, even carrying prescription drugs may lead the officers to decide not to let you cross the border.
  5. If you have been arrested, cautioned, and/or convicted of an offense such as drug trafficking or prostitution. 6.
  6. You may have suspicious content on social media or on your phone.
  7. If you lied in your ESTA which is the State Department’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or your VISA application or to a border official.
  8. If you lied to border control officials, behaved badly, acted suspiciously, or even made a bad joke. 

These days, especially during the Covid 19 pandemic,  there are other reasons why you can be denied entry if you are not able to present a Covid-19 test result or your country of origin is included in the travel bans.


When can you expect outright denial of entry?

US immigration officers alone decide whether they will allow or deny your entry on US soil. Outright denial is oftentimes expected for reasons such as a criminal record or incorrect documentation. If a border officer in the USA decides to deny your entry, a second officer usually steps in to validate. If the second officer also denies your entry, the decision has been made. You cannot enter the US. 


What should you do if you are denied entry into the US?

So what will happen now?  Is there any chance you can get into the US following a denial of entry? These are some tips you can do if ever you were denied entry to the US at the airport:


#1 Stay calm.  Arguing will not get you anywhere. It will only make things worse. If the border official disrespected you,  bite your tongue and continue being calm while asking questions.


#2 Talk to a US immigration lawyer for advice so that you can be better prepared and have a chance to re-enter the US again.


#3 Talk to your airline to see if they could refund you for your ticket.


#4 Talk to the border officials and ask for consideration of not having your record officially entered as denied entry, rather, a withdrawal of your request for entry. This could be beneficial to you in the future. Ask them if you could call your immigration attorney first. They may not allow it, but asking never hurts you and they may take you more seriously.  At this point, your immigration attorney is your friend who can help and guide you to overturn the denial, if possible.


#5 Do not be afraid to ask questions but do so in a calm, rational way and do not take no for an answer.  This way,  you will know the reason for the denial and be better equipped to handle the situation.


#6 Write down the response they give to your questions about your denied entry. You will find that the information you jot down will be useful to you. 


#7 Stay away from the scene and find a place where you can collect yourself. By this time, you are most likely given the reason for the denial.  Sort out your paperwork and find out if the reason for the denial checks out.


#8 The most important step is to call your immigration lawyer and share the details of your case.  This way, you will be guided on the next steps to take moving forward.


#9 Don’t sign anything.  They may want you to give them a statement.  Do not sign it without first speaking to an immigration attorney.  If they don’t allow you to speak to your attorney, do not sign the document.   


Unfortunately, no one is guaranteed entry to the US, other than American citizens. It happens to the best of us.  You could still be denied entry even if you have complete and correct documentation, the right visas, and a legal status. It just helps to be prepared for such an eventuality as a denial and your immigration lawyer can help you prepare.


How do I prevent being denied entry?

There are some ways you can prepare yourself so you can prevent a denied entry to the US.


If you arrive in the US with a visa and an immigration official refuses you entry, you can insist on a review of your case before a judge. You have the right to an exclusion hearing before a judge to evaluate your admissibility or an administrative appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals or a judicial review or appeal of any, or all, of the above decisions.

However, if you travel to the US as a visitor under the visa waiver program, you ‘waive any rights to a review or appeal of an immigration officer’s determination as to your admissibility, or to contest any action in deportation’.

If you have been denied entry to the US because of a criminal record or your lack proper documentation, and on top of that you exhibited improper behavior during your interaction with the US airport employees, the buck stops here. You might have just lost your chance to overturn the denial.


Seek Legal Help

It can be frustrating to have spent so much resources in getting a visa and your plane ticket to your long-awaited trip to the US, only to be denied entry at the airport.  However, this does not mean that you should give up. There are ways to address your concerns on entering the US.


If you are worried about being denied entry to the US at the airport, your immigration lawyer can guide you on the next steps to take so that you can gain US access or return safely home so that you can work on your travel documents. Call an experienced immigration attorney to help you in your case. 

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