Interesting case recently. A client called us with a not-to-uncommon problem. On the way back from visiting an ailing relative in Costa Rica, the family was stopped at Dulles International Airport (a la Virginia). The dreaded hand gesture was made by an immigration border officer to "go to line B". Deferred inspection is in your future.
When Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) takes your passport and gives you a date to return to talk to them -- that is deferred inspection.
So what happens? You get a deferred inspection when you have criminal incidents in your past that could reasonably lead to inadmissibility into the United States. Eh, you say? What is THAT!?
So first, a discussion on crime and immigration. Remember, no matter how old your criminal convictions they are still eligible for immigration review. There is no "ignore after certain date" -- although, there are crimes that are treated differently if your convictions fall before 1990 (among others). That notwithstanding, remember that CBP can review ANY crime convicted at ANY time. However, the crime MUST have resulted in a conviction.
When speaking of crimes, it is important to remember that any crime that has a detention or deferred sentence (suspended sentence) of 12 months or more is considered an aggravated felony, and constitutes inadmissibility on its face. That's bad.
Certain crimes can be waived under the petty exception for CIMT's. Remember that time when you were busted for shoplifting and served 30 days in the brig? Likely, a single offense can be ignored and you will not be found inadmissible.
When you go for your interview, bring a lawyer, and if you can afford one, bring a book. Whoops -- that was backwards, but I'm biased. You will be waiting for quite some time. While you are obligated to be on time for your 11AM deferred inspection, CBP will often stall and you won't be seen until 2pm! Or later. Can you sense my frustration? Baah.
Why do you need a lawyer? Well, a lawyer cannot change the law. If you have an aggravated felony, or you have been smuggling little children into the country, there is nothing the attorney nor the CBP officer can do -- our hands are tied, and the law says you will be found inadmissible. However, an attorney can make a good argument to NOT HAVE YOU DETAINED. CBP will contact ICE once they determine you are inadmissible. It is up to ICE -- not CBP -- whether you shall be detained (sent to jail while you wait for your immigration trial). NOTE -- that an aggravated felony cannot be bonded out. So, having your attorney get CBP to argue that you should NOT be detained (when speaking to ICE) is worth its weight in gold. CBP can make a good argument to have ICE just ignore you. You do NOT want to be detained. While this does not always work, it can ONLY work when you have an attorney.
When you leave (non-detained), you will have a court date from your Notice to Appear (NTA)and you should meet with your attorney to plan your case (see my posting on what to expect at your first immigration court hearing). If you are detained, you will be taken to an immigration detention center and "booked" directly from the deferred inspection meeting. You will then be given your NTA while detained, and need to get in touch with your attorney, who will need to come and meet you at the detention center.
Do you need help with a CBP or deferred inspection? You came to the right place! We have considerable experience helping walk clients through tough situations. We'll walk through each step and help you get the best possible results.
Sean R. Hanover, Esq.
The Hanover Law Firm is located in Washington, DC and Fairfax, VA. We practice
in both state and federal courts in VA, MD, and DC.