Heightened Scrutiny For Nonimmigrant Employment-Based Travelers Entering USA
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week provided AILA with information regarding enforcement issues at Newark Airport.  The CBP have been assisting with an investigation of certain H-1B non-immigrants and particular employers who hire H-1B workers.  This created events where H-1B visa holders were detained as a result of  employers being under investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement), ICE.  


This incident has been a strong reminder that non-immigrants in work-related status such as H-1B,

L-1, E and O-1 classification should be prepared for the potential of additional scrutiny when entering the United States after travel abroad.  CBP will question arriving non-immigrants about their employer, and may request documentation to prove that the nonimmigrant is still employed according to the petition that was filed on their behalf. 


The above-mentioned incident where CBP engaged in more extensive questioning has caused many H-1B visa holders and their employers to have concern about documentation that their employees will need to re-enter the USA following foreign travel.


CBP does have the authority to inquire about these issues, however, recent events indicate that their line of questioning may become more extensive and may result in more situations where arriving employees will be put in secondary inspection.  Secondary Inspection is where CBP officers wish to question the alien concerning their intent in the USA and conduct a more thorough interview and review any additional documentation that the individual may have brought with them, as well as information on electronic devices (cellphones and laptops).  They may even conduct Internet searches on the individual and the employer.  Therefore, employees entering the USA in H-1B classification or other employment based visas should be prepared for the possibility of additional scrutiny, and for the possibility of secondary inspection, regardless of where and when they enter - be it an airport or a land border.


We highly recommend that entering non-immigrants bring the following additional information with them in the event they are asked to produce evidence of their employment:


1)      Copies of 2 recent paycheck vouchers

2)      A copy of the USCIS petition that their status is based upon

3)      Current/Original I-797 approval notice

4)      A current letter of employment verification from a company officer or HR professional confirming job title and dates of employment  on business letterhead - is an excellent idea, as well.


We have heard recent reports that employers may also be contacted by CBP to confirm information related to the employment relationship and job duties.


We will provide updates to you on this issue and intend to watch it very closely.  If you or your employees have encountered any additional scrutiny and would like to relay your experiences, please contact Immigration Solutions.