Receiving a deferred inspection appointment notice can be a scary and traumatic event. Deferred inspection usually comes after you have spent a few hours, or perhaps many in secondary inspection at a sea or airport. Your first thoughts may be, what is deferred inspection? Why do I have to go there? What does it mean that I am “inadmissible.” Can I bring an attorney to the appointment? Should I bring an attorney with me to my deferred inspection appointment?
I recently worked through these questions with a client who has been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for 50 years and was confused and upset at the fact that immigration officers were giving him a hassle for something that happened over a decade prior. Lets start with the basics of what is deferred inspection.
When you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States you enjoy many rights and privileges regarding working, traveling and living in the United States that non-green cardholders do not have. However, having a green card is not the same as being a U.S. citizen and that is very obvious when green card holders travel from and return to the United States.
When anyone attempts to enter the United States from another country, we are required to present ourselves for inspection by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. Usually, the officers will make sure a U.S. citizen’s documents are in order and they are not committing any crimes or violating any laws during entry to the United States. Once they are satisfied that those things are not happening, citizens are free to go. This is called primary inspection.
For non-citizens, including lawful permanent residents, there is much more to it. For non-citizens, primary inspection includes document review, but unlike for citizens, the CBP officers next try to determine if a non-citizen is inadmissible for one of dozens of possible reasons. This can include fraud or misrepresentation, false documents, expired documents, prior criminal convictions and a lawful permanent resident staying outside the U.S. for too long. Any of these things can trigger a red flag and allow CBP to send an applicant for admission to secondary inspection.
Secondary inspection is where CBP takes you to another part of the port and makes you sit and wait, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes overnight, while they sort out the issue that they think make you inadmissible. Sometimes, if you are not a green card holder, secondary inspection can lead to an expedited removal order where CBP will order you removed from the United States and put you on the next plane back to your country.
They cannot do this to people with green cards, so you lawful permanent residents can breath a little easier. What happens many times with green card holders is that an old criminal arrest, even without a conviction, can trigger a red flag. CBP will then put the burden on the applicant for admission to prove they are admissible (even though technically, a green card holder does not have to do that). CBP will give you an appointment for deferred inspection, which will usually take place about 30 days after you enter and take place close to where you live in the United States, regardless of the port into which you first arrived and were inspected.
They may or may not tell you why you are being sent to deferred inspection. They also probably will not tell you that if things go poorly at deferred inspection, and they determine you are inadmissible, they may give you a notice to appear, arrest you and send you to an immigration detention center.
These are just a few of the reasons why you should call an experienced immigration attorney as soon as you receive that deferred inspection appointment notice. Calling an experienced and preferably Board Certified immigration attorney (like me: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html) as opposed to just any attorney is very important to the process. Here is why.
When I arrived at my client’s deferred inspection appointment, I had already contacted CBP in advance, already found out the alleged grounds of inadmissibility, already ordered the certified conviction records and brought them with me, already prepared my G-28 notice of representation and brought evidence of mitigation to help convince CBP not to take my client into custody. I did all these things because as an experience immigration attorney, I knew what deferred inspection was all about and was able to get in front of the issues in the case. The CBP officer thanked me for being so prepared and said it was nice to deal with a real immigration attorney rather than the attorneys who normally show up unprepared and ignorant of what deferred inspection is all about.
I do not say these things to boast, I am not Kanye West. I say them to explain why you need an attorney for deferred inspection-and not just any attorney, but an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney.
Another important note, I am an Orlando Immigration Attorney, but this appointment was in another state. Immigration attorneys can practice anywhere in the United States and overseas. So before you settle for an attorney who dabbles in immigration just because their office is near where you live, consider that hiring the wrong immigration attorney can be much worse than spending a few extra dollars for the right immigration attorney who may have to travel a bit to help you with your case.
John Gihon is a Florida Bar Board Certified expert in Immigration and Nationality Law and a Crimmigration Consultant. You can contact John If you need an Orlando Immigration Attorney or an attorney for deferred inspection, no matter where you live in the world. http://www.floridacrimmigration.com
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