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Old Sep 29th 2010, 11:56 am   #1
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Default Denied entry to the USA - why??

Refused entry to the USA
Well this is a pretty heavyweight subject to start my first-ever thread with!

I arrived in Philadelphia Airport last Tuesday evening (Sept 21 2010) en route to Albany NY to see my fiancee; i was looking forward to getting back there, as i had been away for 3 weeks since the end of my previous 3 month stay. As with the previous visit, i had a return ticket and had transferred more money than for the previous trip, so i wasnt anticipating any problems; i was slightly surprised and a little nervous when the official decided to send me for secondary investigation. After being made to sit and wait for about 20 mins, they started to ask me questions like 'What was the purpose of my visit?' 'How long was i staying' Who was i staying with?' What was the nature of our relationship' etc etc. Even though some of this they already knew, i was beginning to get even more nervous now and it soon became clear that they were not going to make this at all easy; it was also getting perilously close to my onward flight! I showed them my return ticket (again), the bank slip showing the transfer of funds (wished i had just taken the cash through instead!), but they seemed more concerned that i had apparently exploited a loophole in the ESTA, which allows foreign nationals to get married in the US while on a tourist visa. They asked me whether this was my intention and i said that, subject to my divorce being complete and my fiancee being willing, that it was certainly what i wanted, although i made it clear that i knew i would also have to return to the UK until given official permission to return permanently. The combination of potentially spending 6 out of 7 months in the US while not working (although i pointed out that i was due to start a job for a UK company which would have no dealings with US companies or candidates), coupled with my stated desire to get married, was enough for me tro be denied entry. To say i was traumatized was something of an understatement; when i found out that i apparently was to be transferred to a detention centre (which turned out to be a County Jail), i nearly lost the plot entirely!

So shortly afterwards, i was taken away in handcuffs (strange really, since i wasnt arrested!), but not before having to leave everything i owned at the airport, apart from the clothes i was wearing; they even took my ring, my earring, my belt and my trainers/sneakers! I had to sit in the back of the police car for an hour in handcuffs and we didnt get to the jail till midnight (5 am UK time, by which time i had been awake for nearly 24 hours, so my recollections were already becoming a little distorted....). I was put in a cell at 12.30, where i was joined by a convicted criminal shortly after. I was given a thin mat to sleep on and a couple of old sheets and a blanket, but i only managed a couple of hours of fitful sleep, s oyou can imagine how i felt when told to get up at 4 am (9 am UK time; away for 27 hrs with only just over 2 hrs sleep). Breakfast, if you can call it that was served at 5 am; the most disgusting things i have ever seen or tasted, but i did my best.... then i waited in one or other cell with a variety of companions (all convicted, but one or two were nice enough) until 10 am, when i was taken back to the airport, again in handcuffs, where we arrived at 11 (4 pm UK time, up for 34 hours and no more sleep) After much persuasion, i was allowed to wash and change my clothes, then back into a cell, where i remained alone for the next 7 hours, only being allowed out when they thought they were going to have to get me on the first of 2 flights back to London. Was allowed to make a brief 2nd call to my fiancee, but was told to keep it short as it was long distance! Just as well i had persuaded them to call her the previous night, otherwise she woudl have gone to Albany to wait for me..... on both days, the officers had actively tried successfully to dissuade me from calling the embassy (either because "there would be no-one there at this time" or "it wont make any difference"). I was also told that i am now no longer allowed to use the visa waiver program and have to apply for a visa every time; talk about a double whammy! Automatically going to be more scrutinized than before....

Does anyone have any insight into whether a redress application has any chance of success?
Can anyone say if the CBP officers exceeded the bounds oftheir authority?
Did they lie or distort the truth?
What is the easiest/quickest/cheapest way for my fiancee and i to get married and live in the US?
She is a US citizen, but had a brief marriage to a Brit in the mid 80's; she was given Indefinite Leave to Remain then, but has not exercised it - is it still valid?
CBP said immigration lawyers are a rip-off; true or false?
If false, what is a realistic price to pay and can they help with seeking redress?
All or any answers/insights/comments welcome!
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:07 pm   #2
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

It sounds like the CBP officers were just doing their job. Based on the fact that you were not working, had already spent a considerable amount of time in the US, and were about to marry a US citizen, they decided you were abusing the VWP. The standard recommendation is to spend as much time out of the US as you spent in, before attempting to enter again.

You will need a fiance visa (K1) to get married in the US and live there.

From what I've heard, people who are denied entry to the UK are not treated much better.

You can forget about seeking redress.
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:07 pm   #3
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

The rule of thumb when coming over on the vwp is to stay out of the US at least as long as you stayed in the US. You were here previously form 90 days and then only went back to the UK. IMO this is what drew the officers to you.
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:15 pm   #4
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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It sounds like the CBP officers were just doing their job. Based on the fact that you were not working, had already spent a considerable amount of time in the US, and were about to marry a US citizen, they decided you were abusing the VWP. The standard recommendation is to spend as much time out of the US as you spent in, before attempting to enter again.

You will need a fiance visa (K1) to get married in the US and live there.

From what I've heard, people who are denied entry to the UK are not treated much better.

You can forget about seeking redress.
It's interesting the points you have made and they are appreciated; perhaps those who devise and monitor the VWP need to put more info in the way of specifics, because there was certainly no intention on my part to abuse the system, far from it! In fact, it is also possible for my fiancee to apply for a visa so we can get married in the UK, then apply for an I-130 visa (spousal visa) which is supposed to be easier and usually quicker. I have filled in a redress enquiry form, but i am not holding my breath! I'm still puzzled by why i was treated insuch a way though and i am more interested to see if my enquiry will answer those questions. I still am keen to make my home in the US!
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:20 pm   #5
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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Originally Posted by lisa67 View Post
The rule of thumb when coming over on the vwp is to stay out of the US at least as long as you stayed in the US. You were here previously form 90 days and then only went back to the UK. IMO this is what drew the officers to you.
It's a shame the VWP rules are not more specific about that! Thanks for the advice though; i will bear it in mind for future reference!
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:26 pm   #6
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

You can request for redress online.

I don't understand why you were arrested, and even handcuffed. Do they have to hold you in jail until they can fly you back to the UK?
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:30 pm   #7
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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You can request for redress online.

I don't understand why you were arrested, and even handcuffed. Do they have to hold you in jail until they can fly you back to the UK?
Well the weird thing is, i wasn't arrested! Or at least they didnt tell me i was....so i also didnt understand the need for handcuffs; they had all my posessions, including my passport, so i could hardly be considered a flight risk! Yes i was held in custody until an hour brefore the flight, initially in jail and then in a cell at the airport
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:54 pm   #8
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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Originally Posted by uksalesmanager View Post
It's a shame the VWP rules are not more specific about that! Thanks for the advice though; i will bear it in mind for future reference!
It's like that by design to give the immigration officer the most leeway to make a decision based on what he sees and hears, not cast iron rules written in an office somewhere by lawyers who will never see the people using the program. The fact that it's a temporary tourist program should give you a hint that 3 months in and 3 weeks out is more like you trying to live in the US and taking a short trip out of it.
As to an immigration lawyer being a ripoff, it depends on the lawyer, what you want to get out of them and how you define ripoff. They can be worth a lot more than the price paid for their services but if you pay one and they tell you there is nothing really you can do, you may think that's a ripoff.
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:54 pm   #9
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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Originally Posted by uksalesmanager View Post
Well the weird thing is, i wasn't arrested! Or at least they didnt tell me i was....so i also didnt understand the need for handcuffs; they had all my posessions, including my passport, so i could hardly be considered a flight risk! Yes i was held in custody until an hour brefore the flight, initially in jail and then in a cell at the airport
If there was no available flight going back to the UK at the time you were refused entry, then they have to hold you somewhere until they can get you on another flight back.

As others have said, probably your best bet now is to do a K-1 fiance visa if your intent is to get married to a USC and live permanently in the USA.

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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:55 pm   #10
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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Originally Posted by uksalesmanager View Post
Well the weird thing is, i wasn't arrested! Or at least they didnt tell me i was....so i also didnt understand the need for handcuffs; they had all my posessions, including my passport, so i could hardly be considered a flight risk! Yes i was held in custody until an hour brefore the flight, initially in jail and then in a cell at the airport
That seems to be pretty standard. They have to keep you somewhere.
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 12:55 pm   #11
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

If I were you, I would seek proper legal advice from a good U.S immigration attorney that deals with this kind of situation a lot! (one in mind is Shusterman)
Apologies in advance to posters on here, but the majority your questions are way out of their league! including mine.
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 1:04 pm   #12
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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That seems to be pretty standard. They have to keep you somewhere.
Wow, that must be a traumatizing experience. But is the handcuffing really necessary?
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 1:10 pm   #13
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

What redress? You were clearly abusing the VWP by your living in the US for nearly 90 days, leaving for 3 weeks and then flying back to spend more time in the US. The agents were correct in refusing you entry because you have both, verbally and physically, shown that you have immigration intent.

No entry to the US ever guaranteed, even with a visa.
Oh, btw, it is nitpicking but true. You cannot have a fiancee if you are still legally married to someone else.

There are two methods you can use to be allowed to marry and live with your USC fiancee in the US.

1. The fiancee visa

2. Immediate Relative Visa (IR-1)
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 1:15 pm   #14
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

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It's a shame the VWP rules are not more specific about that! Thanks for the advice though; i will bear it in mind for future reference!

Why do they need to be more specific? The VWP is for tourism. It is not a method to live in the US. I think you fail to understand that. Also it isn't only you that fails to understand this and one of the reasons why CBP agents come down on those that abuse it. Too many people think because they don't need an actual paper visa, they can come and go as they please. The same holds true for Americans visiting the UK.
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Old Sep 29th 2010, 1:18 pm   #15
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Default Re: Denied entry to the USA - why??

No one has asked, but what was written in your passport at the time of your removal?

Those numbers/code are quite meaningful and can add sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles to your obtaining a visa to immigrant to the US.
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