My son Yusuf asked me last night how I spent my afternoon at work. I told him that I was out at the airport helping a client getting his green card back from Customs & Border Patrol.
A client of the firm had flown overseas to Jordan to attend his brother’s wedding in Palestine. On his way back home, he had to go through Customs at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Customs officials pulled him out of the line for lawful permanent residents and took him to a back office. They told him that there “was an issue with his passport” and that he would probably miss his flight back to St. Louis.
A supervisor came in to talk to our client. His file had been flagged due to a 2011 arrest in St. Louis County for drug possession. Because of the arrest, Customs kept his green card and his passport and ordered him to report to the Customs office in St. Louis on October 8th. They further directed him to obtain certified copies of all arrest and/or conviction records. The officials then allowed him to enter the U.S. on deferred inspection and to catch a later flight home to St. Louis.
Deferred inspection is the process whereby UCSIS allows someone back into the U.S. temporariliy, while reserving the right to initiate deportation proceedings depending on the person’s situation. The way that I always explain it to people is like the traffic light system.
- Red light – red light means Customs is not allowing you to enter the U.S. and is sending you back home.
- Green light – Customs allows you to enter the U.S. without any further complications.
- Yellow light – this is deferred inspection. Customs saw something in your file that they didn’t like, but they are not convinced that they can keep you out of the country. They usually require you to get certified copies of your records and to bring them back with you to your local Customs office at a later date.
This is what happened with our client. The tricky thing was that the prosecutor had never pressed charges against our client. So, at least on the computer, the case was still in limbo. We obtained a certified copy of the County Sheriff’s arrest record and brought that with us to Customs yesterday. After a short delay, our client received his green card and passport back. We were on our way.
Deferred inspection is a serious business. Our office handled a case several years ago for someone who received deferred inspection and called us on her way back to Customs. It turns out that she had a serious drug conviction and was going to be taken into custody. She had no idea. If you or someone you know receives deferred inspection, please contact us immediately as the cases are usually time sensitive and serious. Our number is (314) 961-8200.