Legal Advice for Traveling Back to the US

In a major shift to U.S. visa policy, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States by Foreign Nationals” on January 27, 2017.  The order went into effect immediately. Numerous lawsuits were filed and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has currently banned the implementation of the order. Because the situation remains fluid, I thought that it is critical that when traveling, you are aware of your rights.

1. U.S. Citizens
U.S. citizens have the right to enter the United States, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) is required to allow U.S. citizens entry. U.S. citizens should always travel with a valid U.S. passport. U.S. citizens also have the right to have an attorney present for any questioning.

2. Non-U.S. Citizens
The U.S. government clearly has the authority to determine whether a non-U.S. citizen is “admissible” under the applicable regulations. Non-U.S. citizens generally do not have the right to an attorney after arriving at an airport or port of entry while being questioned by CBP. However, there is a limited right to legal counsel if the CBP’s questions do not relate to immigration status.

3. Searches
CBP can search (www.cbp.gov/travel/cbp-search-authority) all persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the United States. CBP can also examine computers and cellphones, to obtain information about prior travel, eligibility for visa category, and/or evaluate admissibility. However, there is no requirement to unlock an electronic device, or to provide CBP access to social media accounts or passwords to mobile applications.

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