What is a Deferred Inspection?
Whenever a non-citizen enters the United States, he or she must be inspected by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Failure to be inspected can lead to serious and long lasting immigration consequences. However, not all inspections can be carried out immediately, and officers will sometimes schedule deferred inspections to examine an individual’s credentials and basis for entry. In cases such as these, the non-citizen will be scheduled to report to a Deferred Inspection Site, at which point he or she will be expected to provide the necessary documentation and information to complete the inspection.
Scheduling a deferred inspection is up to the discretion of the CBP agent. Generally, he or she will take into consideration (1) the type of documentation that is missing; (2) whether a good faith effort was made to bring the required documentation; (3) whether there are any apparent grounds of inadmissibility; (4) whether the individual has any family ties in the United States, and (5) whether the individual will pose a threat. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If a deferred inspection is not granted, the noncitizen will either be placed in expedited removal proceedings or if fortunate enough, be allowed to withdraw his or her application for admission, thereby avoiding an order of removal.
What happens next?
The non-citizen will be given an Order to Appear-Deferred Inspection (Form I-546). This form will list what documentation and information needs to be furnished at the scheduled Deferred Inspection. The individual will also be given an I-94. It is important to note that the I-94 will indicate that the non-citizen has been paroled. This means that he or she has not yet been legally admitted into the United States, and will not be admitted until a decision is made at the Deferred Inspection or at a later time.
What should be done after receiving Form I-546?
Of course, besides consulting with an immigration attorney to explore the implications of the deferred inspection and what is being requested, the non-citizen should call the Deferred Inspection Unit’s number to verify the time and date of the appointment.
For those who arrived at Newark International Airport, there is an inspection unit on site. Their number is (973) 565-8000 extension 8010 or 8011, and their address is:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP)
Deferred Inspections Unit
Newark International Airport,
Newark, NJ 07114
What should you bring to the Deferred Inspection?
Form I-546 should list what documentation is needed. Applicants for admission are advised to follow the documentation list to the letter. Every case is fact and case sensitive. For some, an officer may request certified dispositions if there is a criminal issue. For others, an officer may request proof of continuous residence if, for example, there is a question as to whether the individual abandoned his/her residence in the United States.
What happens at the Deferred Inspection?
The staff on site will review and inspect the documents brought. They will remedy errors in arrival documents where appropriate. The reviewing officer may decide to admit the non-citizen, continue his/her parole, issue a Notice To Appear (which would formally put the non-citizen into removal proceedings), or at his/her discretion, allow the non-citizen to withdraw his or her application for admission.
How long does the Deferred Inspection take?
The wait time at the Deferred Inspections Unit can vary from a few hours to several. It will depend on how busy the unit is, how many officers are available, and of course, how complex the particular individual’s issue is. The non-citizen should arrive on time and plan to be there for the better part of the day. While an individual is not legally entitled to have an attorney present at the deferred inspection, the involvement of an attorney beforehand can be invaluable. If an attorney is involved early enough, he or she may initiate contact with CBP to clarify any legal issues and in some cases, clear up very serious errors or misconceptions.
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