At the arrival airport, the officer of the CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) may ask, “What is your intention in coming to the US?” Your answer to this question, plus the information you put on your visa application, plus the observations of the officer, will determine if your entry to the US is approved or denied at the airport. CBP and CIS at the airport are in a better position than the Consulate to decide if your intention matches the type of visa you received from the Consulate.
Here’s an example: Mr. Nguyen travelled to the US several times with B1-2 visas and never had any problems at the arrival airport. However, the last time Mr. Nguyen arrived in the US, he was interviewed by CBP and CIS officers at the airport and he was denied entry. He was forced to return to Vietnam immediately.
Let’s look at two questions. First, can he apply for a new B2 visa after returning to Vietnam? And second, why was he denied entry to the US?
In this case, because Mr. Nguyen was denied entry to the US, he may have to wait for some time before he can get a new B2 visa and if he gets a new visa, CBP and CIS will still have a record of his denial. But, in a way, he was lucky because the CIS officer gave him the opportunity to withdraw his application for admission. So, he was allowed to return to Vietnam voluntarily, without being officially deported by CIS. If he was “excluded” at the airport, which means “deported”, he would probably not be able to get any more B1-2 visas.
Now, we look at why Mr. Nguyen was denied entry. Mr. Nguyen was travelling with his teen age son. Officers believed that the son did not intend to leave the US when his B2 expired. It was also clear that Mr. Nguyen was not completely truthful when he was interviewed by the CBP officer.
- CBP found a note in the son’s luggage: In the note, he told a friend that he would not return to Vietnam soon because he wanted to study in the US. In the opinion of the officers, this was a clear intention to violate the terms of the B2 visa.
- The son had a lot of luggage, including family photos, electronic equipment and sports equipment. He was also carrying personal documents including birth certificate, school transcripts, etc., indicating that he expected to stay in the US for a long time and he did not have the intention of leaving when her B2 expired. As far as the officers are concerned, arriving in the US with your CV and educational records and certificates is an indication of your intent to remain in the US for a long stay, longer than would be allowed by a B2 visa.
Also, Mr. Nguyen told CBP that his wife was in Vietnam, but CPB found his divorce certificate among the many documents that he had with him. So he actually told a lie to CPB when he said he had a wife in Vietnam. His reason for telling the lie was not convincing to the officer. And, why did he have so many personal documents with him? He told CIS that he wanted to start a business in the US, but running a business is clearly not allowed for B1-2 visa holders. So it appeared that he intended to violate the terms of his visa.
Remember, all B1-2 visa holders are considered to be an intending immigrant until they can prove that they aren’t. Even if you intend to leave the US when your B1-2 expires, and even if you don’t intend to work or study while you are on a B1-2 visa, there are some things that make CBP and CIS officers suspicious. These suspicions can cause you to be denied entry to the US as a B1-2 holder.
- Making many trips to the US. CBP/CIS may think you are either working in the U.S., or doing things that you are not supposed to be doing, or at the very least, they may think you are spending too much time in the U.S. These suspicions are enough to deny entry.
- Bringing things that make it look like you’re going to stay for a long time, such as a large amount of clothing, pictures in frames, lots of jewelry, legal documents such as bank statements, birth certificates, school records, etc.
- Telling the CBP/CIS officer that you intend to open a business in the US. You cannot work, or actively engage in the running of a business if you have a B-1/B-2 visa. However, you may be a business owner and hire a manager to run your business. You can certainly appoint an agent or hire employees who are eligible to work. But, if you just tell the officer that you are in the US in order to start a business, it would seem that you do not intend to be in the US temporarily as a non-immigrant. So, the officer would probably deny you entry to the US. If you have the necessary funds, it would be better to apply for an EB5 visa while you are in Vietnam.
- Telling the CBP/CIS officer that you intend to enroll your child in school in the US. What you should say is that you intend to look for a suitable school for your child and your child will apply for admission after returning to Vietnam. The only way for your child to study legally in the US is to have an F-1 Student visa. Your child could apply for a change of status from B2 to F1 while in the US, but some officers may question why the child did not apply for an F-1 before coming to the States.
Q.1. Can a B1-2 visa holder live and work in the US while waiting for his EB5 application to be processed?
A.1. During the EB5 application process, you cannot live and work in the U.S. under the B1-B2 status. You can visit the U.S. to enter into business agreements and visit places of interest under the B1/B2 status.
Q.2. My sister-in-law in Vietnam had a child six years ago with an American citizen, though they were never married. The man has died. We invited her and her child to visit us in California. The Consulate said that before they can issue a B2 for the child, the mother must file a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Why is that?
A.2. The problem is that US citizens don’t need visas, and therefore they are not eligible for them. If the child is a US citizen by birth, then the Consulate cannot issue a B2 visa for him. It sounds like the Consulate believes that the child may be eligible for US citizenship. If he is a citizen, the mother will need to apply for a US passport for him.
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Q.3. At the arrival airport, is there any way to make an appeal if the officer says he intends to deny entry?
A.3. The only way is to ask to speak with a supervisor. Perhaps the supervisor will give you more time to tell your story and perhaps he will allow you to enter the US.
ROBERT MULLINS INTERNATIONAL www.rmiodp.com www.facebook.com/rmiodp
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