Written by attorney Raymond Gabriel Lahoud

Deferred Inspection: Do Not Listen to Customs and Border Patrol — You Need Counsel

A deferred inspection is an inspection conducted by Customs and Border Patrol officers that takes place on a date following an alien’s initial application or reapplication (after a brief trip abroad) that occurs after an alien’s initial application for admission into the U.S., usually at a different site than where the individual originally applied for admission.

An order to appear for a deferred inspection will usually be issued if primary and secondary inspections at the port of entry cannot generate an immediate determination as to the individual’s U.S. immigration status. This often happens when the alien does not have sufficient documentation when the alien first applies for admission at the border.

There are 70 deferred inspection sites throughout the U.S. and its outlying territories. Customs determines whether to issue an order for deferred inspection on a case-by-case basis.

The criteria used to determine whether to grant deferred inspection include:

  • the likelihood the applicant will be establish admissibility
  • the type of documents needed and the ability to obtain them
  • the good faith effort of the applicant to obtain documents prior to arrival at the port of entry
  • verification of the applicant’s identity and nationality
  • age, health, and family ties of the applicant
  • other humanitarian considerations
  • likelihood that applicant would appear at deferred inspection
  • the nature of the ground of inadmissibility
  • the danger to society if the applicant is paroled

If Customs decides to grant you a deferred inspection, an officer will give you a Form I-546, Order to Appear-Deferred Inspection, which will explain what information and documents you should bring with you to the deferred inspection site.

You must appear for a deferred inspection. If you do not appear, a Notice to Appear is issued, placing you in removal proceedings before an Immigration Court, and your name will be posted on the National Automated Immigration Lookout System.

Although you have no right to a lawyer at primary or secondary inspection, you may be allowed to have a lawyer present at deferred inspection upon request if the supervisory inspector on duty deems it appropriate. The role of the lawyer at a deferred inspection is limited to that of an observer and consultant.

At the deferred inspection, the CBP officer will review the information requested on the Form I-546, Order to Appear-Deferred Inspection, and make appropriate determinations. The officer may decide to formally admit you, to continue your parole, to allow you to withdraw your application for admission, or to issue you a Notice to Appear, which places you in removal proceedings. In some instances, CBP may also decide to detain you for removal proceedings.

Take an attorney with you to Deferred Inspection interviews.

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