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Updated: Feb 12, 2020

A visa to the United States does not give you the right to enter the country. Immigrants and non-immigrant visitors still need to undergo the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) test. In this article, we will focus on one of the most common grounds for refusal of entry to non-immigrant visas holders, “intent to immigrate”.

In the last months, many individuals have been concerned about denial, or possible denial of entry due to frequent trips to the United States. CBP has refused admission to certain visitors, on the grounds that they raise a suspicion of intent to immigrate.

The lmmigration and Nationality Act (INA), does not provide specific factors to consider when determining whether a visitor shows intent to immigrate or not. It does not have guidelines for CBP agents to follow when non-immigrants have intent to immigrate to the U.S. Even though “suspicion of intent to immigrate” is not listed as a ground of inadmissibility, under section 212 of the INA, section 214(b) of the same act provides that non-immigrants, except for those under the categories H-1B, L, and V, shall be presumed immigrants at the time of application for admission, unless they establish to CBP that they are entitled to non-immigrant status. (See 8 U.S.C. 1184(b)). Therefore, it is the non-immigrant´s job to convince CBP that he does not plan to stay in the United States, upon termination of his visit or authorized period.

Failure to convince CBP that visa holder will return to country of residence upon end of visit, might result in classification of intending immigrant and refusal of admission, under subsection 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I). This subsection provides that “any immigrant at the time of application for admission who is not in possession of a valid unexpired immigrant visa, reentry permit, border crossing identification card, or other valid entry document required by this chapter, and a valid unexpired passport, or other suitable travel document, or document of identity and nationality […] is inadmissible.” (See 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(7)(A)(i)(I)).

Denying admission is not the end of the problem. In some instances CBP officers even cancel the non-immigrant’s visa, after refusing admission if they presume there is an intent to immigrate.

To avoid going through such a painful and embarrassing moment, it is important that non-immigrants always act according to the purpose of the visa they hold. For example, a person who holds a B2 (tourist visa) and enters the U.S. every two or three months to stay for five or six months might make CBP officers think that he or she is planning to stay in the United States. A B1 (business visa) holder who works for a multinational company, on the other hand, might have more reasons to travel frequently to the U.S. Additionally, CBP might consider the ties of the applicant for admission to his/her country of residence.

Immigration authorities, however, not always make the right decision when it comes to admissibility determinations. There are certain steps a person may take if s/he believes that admission or entry has been denied for no legitimate reason. Individuals who have been subject to refusal/denial of admission, should consult an immigration attorney to determine whether CBP properly exercised its discretion and acted according to the laws.

The content of this article is solely provided for informational purposes, it should not be considered as legal advice for your case. It also does not guarantee the outcome of your case.

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