U.S. Law Center

What happens during an inspection at a U.S. port of entry?

As a foreign national, when you plan to go to California or elsewhere in the United States, there are certain steps that you must complete to enter country legally. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the federal agency that oversees the process of the inspection that you will undergo at a port of entry.

People who are prepared for their inspections typically do not find the process difficult. You do have certain responsibilities, though. These include proving that you are who you say you are, and that there are no presidential proclamations, executive orders or U.S. laws that would signal your removal from the country. Your eligibility to enter the country and your identity must be proven, which involves providing fingerprints, photographs and other evidence that ensures you are not on the list of people who are not admissible.

The immigration officer who is an expert in U.S. immigration law reviews all the information provided, and if the outcome is negative, you may receive a denial, your inspection may be deferred or you may need to leave the country and withdraw your application immediately. If the outcome is favorable, the officer proclaims you either inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled. Once you are admitted you may be free to apply for adjustment of status.

If you are paroled, you may need to apply for a waiver or provide further information, depending on the relevant issue. People who are paroled are often allowed entry while they fulfill the requirements, but each person is reviewed based on the specifics of his or her own case, and entry is not guaranteed. Since the information provided here is general in nature, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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