We have previously written about the increasing importance of compliance with immigration laws while traveling in and out of the U.S. The Department of State has indicated that it has put in place enhanced aviation security measures for all commercial flights to the United States, including heightened screening of personal electronic devices. Therefore, it is important that any e-mails or documents you may have on your laptop or smart phone are consistent with the terms of your immigration status.
For example, if you are entering the U.S. on a visitor’s visa, you are not authorized to work in the United States. Rather, the expectation is that you will visit the U.S. temporarily for limited activities and return to your home country. If the immigration officer suspects that your intent is not to return to the U.S. or that you will violate the terms of your status during your visit, the officer may detain you right there in the airport and review your documents, phone, and social media. If the officer finds information that contradicts your stated purpose for the trip, an individual could be detained for several hours without access to the outside world, let alone an attorney, ultimately leading to a forced return to your home country. Most travelers intend to abide by the terms of their visas, but may be confused as to exactly what that may entail. To avoid any potential issues, we strongly recommend that our clients contact us before international travel to prepare any necessary documents and avoid these problems.