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Can H1B holder be denied at Port of Entry ? Experiences

After you get H1B Visa approval at US Consulate, you would get H1B Visa Stamp foil glued in your passport indicating your approval and eligibility to fly to US and enter US on H1B Visa. In general, getting US Visa stamp in passport at consulate does not mean that you would be able to enter US with 100% certainty. it is up to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at Port of entry to make the decision to allow you to enter US or not on H1B Visa. While most of the applicants are able to enter, some H1B holders are denied entry into US at Port of entry. In this article, we will review some of the past incidents and experiences from real users.

Process at US Port of Entry for H1B Applicant

Similar to anyone entering US, H1B visa holders also have to go through US Port of entry process and be interviewed by a CBP officer. The officer at port of entry, checks for some of the below aspects and asks few questions.

  • Security Clearance : if there are any security related flags raised by their systems like threat to national security or anything by the person trying to enter US
  • Validity of the H1B petition, Company : They will check the details of the company, H1B petition, any other aspects like issues with company that you are trying to join.
  • Biometrics Details, Identity : They will verify the identity of person, biometrics of the person like photo, fingerprints, etc.
  • Any other annotation : If there is any text on the annotation section given by consular officer, they will check the same and verify.
  • Documents, Resumes, Petition info : They may review the H1B documents like petition info, resumes, work experience letters, other documents.

If the CBP officer is convinced with all the above, then only they will allow the H1B holder to enter US, if not, they will be taken to secondary screening. If they believe that H1B holder was involved in fraud after secondary review, they maybe denied entry and H1B holder can be deported. They would cancel H1B visa as well at port of entry.

CBP has authority to Check Electronic Devices

US CBP officers have authority to inspect electronic devices. They can check email, whatsapp, messenger, any other apps on the mobile phone, the conversations, groups you were part of, etc. All of this can be used to evaluate your entry on H1B Visa. They can review all the documents like resumes, documents, etc that are on your computer. If there are any inconsistencies and they have doubts, they have hold you and question you and may even deny your entry.

H1B workers denied entry based on Inconsistencies in Resumes

One of the most common issues with small to mid size IT Bodyshops is fraud and misrepresentation of documents, especially in terms of resumes. Some of these companies inflate the resumes of H1B workers and submit them to clients to get project with inaccurate experience. The CBP Officers often verify the documents like resumes, their consistency with H1B holders real experience, what was submitted to clients, etc. If they believe there was any fraud or misrepresentation of documents like resumes, education certificates, or any others, they can deny entry to US.

Below are some experiences from the past shared by Users trying to enter US in the past.

H1B Port of Entry Denied Experiences

There are not many issues noticed at the port of entry in recent years like in 2021. The below experiences are from past years, so take them as a word of caution for your caution.


First time H1B holder sent back at Chicago Port of Entry [2016]

BackgroundFlight, Airlines, Journey

I want to share my experience where I was sent back to India from Chicago Port Of Entry. I’m writing this because still I’m not sure what made them to send me back. Here is my journey started on 22 Feb 2016 from Bangalore to Chicago via Doha in Qatar Airlines. Once I reached Chicago some Security Officers were guiding where Non Immigrant Visa (H1B) Holders should stand in line for Immigration. As I have one more connecting flight to catch from Chicago I didn’t even got a chance to fresh up even though i journeyed for long 20 hours I directly stood in Immigration line.

Port of Entry Experience :

There Officers were driving people to different counters depends on the availability and members waiting at respective counters. I was guided to go in the queue of one of the counters were already 2 or 3 people were there before me. As I know Immigration is more or less equally Important similar to that of H1B Visa Stamping, As it is my first time visit to U.S. A I had slight tension but I hope for the best that my immigration and customs will be cleared and can board the domestic flight to a city in Texas. I also observed some of the people facing officers sitting at other counters and my counter.
Finally My turn came to face Immigration Officer(Port of Entry Officer or CBP Officer) where he asked below

  • my name
  • purpose of visit
  • who is your employer
  • what do you do for the employer
  • who is your current Employer.
  • After I answered to these questions I felt like he told me to keep my fingers on the Biometric reader for verification.
  • After I placed my right hand 4 fingers he told me to stand near to glass which is little ahead of the counter without handover of my passport to me and he told one officer will route me for next steps.

By this time I understood that something dint went smooth. But I’m confident that I will get through as I have all the valid documents along with client letter whom I gonna work for. Later I was guided to a small hall were already around 40 people are there including families with kids, some came on student Visa and couple of old people were also there. On seeing them I felt more confident that most of them they are directing to this hall and all gonna be well.

For every 10 to 15 mins around 2 people were joining into that hall accompanied with some security the way we came to that hall. There is one notice in the hall where it is written “no usage of cell phones here” and if any one found using they are capturing it and asking them to collect while leaving. So it means Officially we are not suppose to use our mobiles for any reasons. Here CBP officers were calling persons name and ask them to accompany into a room. Until I went into a room I was not aware that here people are evaluating all the documents in detail including the mobile phones. In fact the word Interrogation will best suit for it which is similar to the way we see in English Movies.(Its like serious oral discussion)

Secondary Screening by CBP Officers

In the evaluation room 3 other officers evaluating people like me also there. The Officer allotted to me is a lady officer where each officer sits in front of a computer and we will be seated beside to the computer in such a way that we cant see anything in the computer. Now I was started asking with questions like Name, Fathers Name and H1B Visa date, Employer which is sort of general questions.

When I answered my Employer name she started saying that Employer doesn’t have good reputation saying they don’t have proper clients and they will make us sit in bench till we get proper client and all. Also she is asking for the documents like I-797, Client letters, LCA, etc. I showed all the documents which ever she asks and she told like all documents are proper but these employer will make all these documents without having proper client.

I told like my employer is genuine and has a valid client where couple of them already started working for the client from my Employer office Location. Also they sponsored my H1B Visa and I will be paid right from the first day. But she keeps insisting the same. here I put a question to officer, if my employer is not genuine why dint they reject my visa at the time of Visa Stamping day. For that she dint reply anything and asked me what time I will reach destination. I replied its at early morning 1:30 A.M. She told how will manage to reach the address.

I told I will go to Guest House address and I have a Point of Contact details as well. then she told call him, then I removed my emergency contact details paper from my wallet and asked her to dial. She refused to do so from phone other than main and said that I have to dial from my own. As my phone is switched off I switched on it till that time she dint take phone from me. Once I entered my phone password and once I was about to dial the point of contact she took the phone from me and asked me to wait outside.(Its like she used a trick to take my phone after entering the login password).

I waited for 1 hour in same old hall and was called inside. This time the officer who called me is short Guy. generally the Officers there are tall. As soon as I entered into the room I was asked to sit on the chair and i tried to sit on the chair by moving it into my comfortable position, but the officer told to sit in the way the chair is kept. here I thought he is little arrogant and sat in the same way he told. He again put same questions what ever earlier officer asked and he told like he has got some proof from my mobile gmail application that I have sent my resume for some of the opening in U.S.
He stated that just sending resume to any other client means they are offering a job for me and as per Immigration rules I or my employer involved in marketing of my resume and I was told like my chances of going to Destination is Zero. Now he told me he will ask some questions and i should say only true and he will enter the same in computer. if they feel its not true they will ban me from entering into u.s for 5 years and will put me in prison for 2 days. He asked some genreral questions and I replied. one question he asked is at the time visa interview in the documents it is mentioned tentative date of travelling to U.S is within 1 month and you came after 3 months.

I replied saying I thought I can buyout my current companies 3 months notice period to 1 month, But Company dint accept for Buyout and asked to serve entire three months of Notice Period and during this 3 months I took 1 week leave due to sick , so they extended my notice period to 3 months and 1 week. For that the office had written answer in the computer As “I took 1 week leave due to this my company had extended my notice period to 3 months and 1 week.
Like this he written all the answers in the computer which ever he is comfortable and ask me to sign on the papers by saying if i sign i will go now back to India in the same flight which I came and this also means that I’m voluntarily applied for withdrawn of my visa which I came to U.S.
Officer also told like if i sign I can come to U.S with new Visa(In my mind I thought I wont come to u.S at all).

If i wont sign I have to stay in Jail for 2 days and they will ban me entering to U.S for 5 years.
With no other option I have to sign on all the pages of the document (here in 1st page all general information is there where he allowed me to read and from second page on wards he dint allow me to read anything and asked me only to sign on the papers or else he told i will loose flight for today and I have to stay for 1 more day.) before signing he brought bottle of mineral water for me as if he is much concern.

During this threatening questions he once asked Do you want to speak to Indian Lawyer, instead of Indian Embassy, I told no (Thinking that how will i get Indian Lawyer through phone and also fear that I may have to stay in custody). Finally I came to know through officer that I have signed to withdraw my application for admission withdrawn and eventually I got stamping on my visa saying VISA CANCELLED WITH PREJUDICE pursuant to 22 CFR 41.122(h)(3)/(4) of the INA. He delayed all this process and make me wait for 1 day for cross questioning and finally I was boarded back to Bangalore with my own expenses on the next day for the same flight which I came.


News, Experiences – H1B holders sent back to India at Port of entry [2010]

In January 2010, many H1B visa holders were deported at the Port of entry. it was covered by  Rediff.com News  as well. This incident happened in the first week of January, 2010 at the port of entry at Newark, NJ. At least five of the H1B holders who came in a plane from India were sent back home.

What was reported by community is that one of the victims was working for a mid size IT body shop consulting company in US. The person had a very good consulting job and was working  in US for a client. The person went to India, got H1B visa extension stamped and came to US with all the proper documentation to Newark. At the port of entry, the H1B holder was questioned by Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBP Officer) and was sent back making the H1B holder sign I-275 form. There was no proper reason explained.


Check US Port of Entry Experiences for Questions asked.

Documents to carry by H1B holder at Port of Entry

One of the many reasons many get in trouble at Port of entry is either for fraud or misrepresentation of documents. It is advisable to carry below set of documents to avoid issues at port of entry. You can check H1B Visa Port of Entry Documents Checklist to get more info

  1. Copies of the beneficiary’s pay records (leave and earnings statements, and pay stubs, etc.) for the period of the previously approved H-1 B status;
  2. Copies of the beneficiary’s payroll summaries and/or Form W-2s, evidencing wages paid to the beneficiary during’ the period of previously approved H-1B status;
  3. Copy of Time Sheets during the period of previously approved H-1 B status;
  4. Copy of prior years’ work schedules;
  5. Documentary examples of work product created or produced by the beneficiary for the past H-1B validity period, (i.e., copies of: business plans, reports, presentations, evaluations, recommendations, critical reviews, promotional materials, designs, blueprints, newspaper articles, web-site text, news copy, photographs of prototypes, etc.). Note: The materials must clearly substantiate the author and date created;
  6. Copy of dated performance review(s); and/or
  7. Copy of any employment history records, including but not limited to, documentation showing date of hire, dates of job changes, i.e. promotions, demotions, transfers, layoffs, and pay changes with effective dates.

Also, talk to your employer and get to know the details of your H1B filing and details like how the H1B was filed and How was the client company presented and How your skills were presented in the original petition. Your explanation should be congruent with the filing of your original and extension of H1B visa. Any discrepancies between your employers and your statements will create unnecessary troubles. Just take time to study your history of H1B petition and work with employer and get to know all the details. Your employer is your best resource and can help you in this situation.

Do you know any other instances where anyone on H1B visa you know were sent back ? Share your experiences

   

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