In Immigration Land, there is something called Deferred Inspection. Here's how to think about it. When a foreign national leaves the US and attempts to return, one of three things can happen - red light, yellow light, green light.
Red light means that the person is turned away and refused entry to the US. When this happens, it is usually foreigners who do not have a green card. But it has been known to happen with lawful permanent residents. Green light means that the person is allowed to return to the U.S. and go about their business.
Yellow light means that Customs and Border Patrol officials see something in the computer that gives them pause or troubles them. Typically, it is a prior criminal matter that was either never resolved or, more accurately, that CBP's computer SAYS was never resolved. The CBP agent is not sure whether to let the person back into the US so they issue something called deferred inspection. Hence, the yellow light.
Deferred inspection is, as its name implies, a chance for the person to come into the US but to not be formally "admitted." Their actual inspection is conducted at some later date, typically at the Customs office closest to their home. The individual's passport, visa and/or green card is confiscated and kept with Customs. CBP usually requires them to gather paperwork about whatever the issue is and to go back to Customs.
Yesterday, we went to Lambert Airport to help our client with a deferred inspection. She had flown through Customs in mid-April and was pulled out of the admission line to meet with Customs officials. They asked her about an arrest that she had several years ago for a felony charge. Although she had been completely exonerated by video and the case was never even filed, the Customs' computer said that she had a felony on her record. They ordered her to return to Customs yesterday and to bring paperwork showing the criminal disposition.
Working with our client over the past two weeks, we obtained certified copies of her arrest and conviction record. The St. Louis County report clearly noted that the charge had been dismissed. After we reviewed the documents, we figured she was in good shape and would be paroled into the country.
The CBP officials at Lambert are actually extremely nice guys. They always treat my clients and I with the utmost respect and I really enjoy working with them. They spent about 5 minutes reviewing the paperwork. They came out of the office with my client's passport and green card and returned them to her. She was happy and relieved. So we were happy that worked out. Next up, we are going to start working on this client's citizenship application and have her naturalize as soon as possible.