Inspection and Admission

Any individual, whether a citizen of the United States or a foreign national seeking admission to the United States, is checked at a port of entry prior to admission.  A port of entry may literally mean a sea port; however, it also means a border crossing checkpoint between Mexico or Canada and the United States, or an U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) desk in an airport.  Regardless of what port you enter through, a preinspection and clearing process takes place between the traveler and an immigration officer. Each traveler must have proper identification and evidence proving that their admission to the United States has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security which is usually a passport with a visa granting admission.  The Department of Homeland Security’s agency tasked with granting or declining benefits and permission to foreign nationals is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Any person entering the United States without permission granted by UCSIC, with the exception of Canadian nationals because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, are deemed to be in the United States illegally.

Any alien arriving at a port of entry is defined as an Applicant for Admission.  Due to the fact that an alien is granted final permission to enter the country by a CBP officer, they are not defined as “Admitted” until CBP grants final entry, even if they arrive at the port of entry with proper documentation and visas.  For those arriving at a port of entry without permission for entry can either seek Asylum or they will be turned away by CBP and forced to return to their country of origin.


Photo: Tomás Castelazo

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