Denial of entry on visa waiver program (VWP)

One of my callers this week was calling because he had been denied entry to the USA. Arriving at Logan airport, he was inspected by Customs and Border Protection officials who denied him entry. They were not satisfied as to the true intent of his visit to the US. During questioning and examination of his smart phone, certain emails contained information which prompted officials to deem him not eligible to enter.

CBP wrote “Refused under section 217” on his passport and he was directed to the next flight leaving from Boston for Ireland. We consulted attorney Chris Lavery on the matter. “This individual was refused entry under the visa waiver program for not meeting requirements, and that’s basically what section 217 refers to,” attorney Lavery pointed out. The individual does have the option of formally applying for a visitor’s visa at the US Embassy in Ireland although there is also a risk of denial there. Having evidence of non-immigrant intent is very important in such a case.

Evidence of non immigrant intent

The IPC suggests having evidence of nonimmigrant intent when attempting to enter the USA on the VWP. Such evidence could include any or all of the following:

Property and Economic Interest: Evidence of home ownership or an apartment lease. A letter from an employer showing you are employed in your native country.

Community Ties: If you have a history of participating in community activities, this may help to show that you are unlikely to abandon your home country.

Other Ties: If you are in college or high school, include a letter from the college or high school administrator verifying you are going to be returning there to study.

Finance: You need to be prepared to prove that you have the means to sustain yourself while staying in the US. You should obtain a letter from your bank and a bank statement.

Itinerary: A prepared itinerary of places to visit and places to stay in the US is also a good idea if coming to visit. If coming for an event such as a wedding, baptism, or other sacrament, have copies of invitations to the events. Be prepared to answer questions about the status of those who you are coming to visit in the US. Having character references from community leaders or law enforcement in your home country can help in some situations if CBP had any doubt as to whether you are a person of good moral character.

Period of stay

Visitors applying for entry under this program are allowed to remain 90 days. No extensions of stay can be granted, and VWP travelers cannot change their status. People coming under the VWP cannot work or study in the US. There are visas available to allow you to do these activities. You are also not eligible for a change of status to a temporary working visa in the US if you enter on the VWP.

Travel while awaiting US citizenship

Those who have filed for US citizenship are reminded that they can travel while their N400 is pending. They can use their passport and valid green card, and take with them copies of the N400 and receipt notices when traveling. If the green card has expired, you have to make an appointment and appear at a local USCIS office with copies of the N400 and receipt notices to get a stamp on your passport as temporary evidence of lawful status.

Free Legal Clinic

Questions on visas, US citizenship, legal permanent residency status or the current immigration reform bill? Our next free clinic is at The Banshee, 934 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester. 6:30 pm, Tuesday June 4th. Immigration attorneys will be present for free one to one consultations.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained in it is provided to inform generally, and is not intended as a substitute for individual advice. Immigration law is subject to frequent changes and individual circumstances can affect the application of certain legal provisions. For individual legal advice, please contact the Irish Pastoral Centre directly regarding upcoming legal clinics or consultation with an immigration attorney.