Inspection Procedures at US Ports of Entry

Whether you are a foreign national traveling to the United States for the first time in your life, or are an American going back home after a stay abroad, it is important that you are prepared for the inspection process that is performed in all United States ports of entry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. Inspection processes such as this is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and the requirements and procedure is published under the Federal Register in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Customs and Border Protection officers perform an inspection of immigration, customs, and agriculture components, and may refer a traveler to the public health officer if found to have a health issue.

When you get to your Port of Entry (which is usually an airport, seaport or a land border) you will be inspected by CBP officers. Your reason for entry will be defined, as well as your purpose and the duration of the stay. You will undergo inspection in four categories namely, agriculture, customs, immigration and public health.

You must be prepared to present your passport, visa and other related documents. Be prepared to answer questions about your identity and nationality. Also, you will be asked how long you intend to stay and in which status. Your inspecting officer will look into your fingerprint records, national qualifications for your visa, and your arrival and departure record. Finally, be prepared to answer questions about your true intention for entering the US. You will need to specify if you are going there to tour, visit family, study or work.