What to Expect When Entering the United States Border

Aug 19, 2015 | Border

As a Miami immigration lawyer, I often caution my clients about entering US borders. If you are not a US citizen, you can expect that first person you meet on arrival will be an officer of Customs and Border Protection, or CBP. Here are some frequently asked questions about what to expect, what to do, and what not to do when you’re at the US border.

What does the CBP officer do?
The officer will inspect your passport and documents. Primarily the officer looks for proof that you’ve been given permission to enter the U.S. He/she will also be looking for any information that might prohibit you from entering the United States. It goes without saying that you should have all your visa paperwork ready. It also does not hurt to have the name and contact information of your Miami immigration lawyer handy.

What can I expect from the CBP officer?
First, you can expect for your name to be checked against various computer databases. CBP officers are also trained in detecting fraud, and will therefore be on the lookout for people who might be using a tourist or nonimmigrant visa to gain entry to the United States for illegal purposes or a permanent stay. Note:  Even if your visa and intentions are valid, be aware that if the CBP officers has good reason to believe that you are lying, you can be refused entry at the border, returned to your home country, and prohibited from returning for five years. Again, you should always have the name and contact information of your Miami immigration lawyer handy.

Will the CBP officer ask me questions?
Yes, the CBP officer may ask you questions. Here are some of the questions that the CBP officer may ask you, including but not limited to:

  • Why are you visiting the United States? Note – your answer must match your visa. If, for example, you have a visitor visa but say that you’re coming to find a job, you will most likely not be allowed to enter the U.S.
  • Where will you be staying? You need to demonstrate that you have clear plans for what you will be doing in the United States. Have your answer ready.
  • Who will you be visiting? Same as above – you need to demonstrate that you have clear plans for what you will be doing in the United States. Have your answer ready
  • How long will you be staying? You should not give an answer indicating that you plan on staying longer than you should.
  • How often do you come to the United States? The officer is looking to see whether you are using nonimmigrant visas as a way of living in the United States — in which case you’ll be accused of misusing your visa and be denied entry.

Again, it is a good idea to have your Miami immigration lawyer’s contact information readily available.

 Is there anything else that I should remember?
In general, you will also want to note the following:

  •  Luggage Search – The border official may also check your suitcases and personal possessions
  • Make sure nothing that you bring appears to contradict your visa status. 
  • Do not bring illegal or questionable items. Do not bring guns into the US. In addition, refrain from carrying other questionable items, such as illegal drugs, pornography, plants, fruits, and animals of types or species that are not allowed into the United States.

If you have any questions as to what is allowed, and what is disallowed, you may want to consult with a Miami immigration attorney to discuss your options.

If you would like more information on entering the U.S. border, please contact Miami immigration lawyer The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at tmsilvalaw.com.