Immigration Lawyer Comments on H-1B Visa Holders Returned at Newark International Airport

Did H-1B visa holders returned at the Newark International Airport have anything to do with the recent Neufeld Memo?

I always say that news agencies thrive on bad news! The same goes for the recent incident at the Newark International Airport where earlier this month certain H-1B visa and L-1 visa holders were returned apparently after Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers determined that these H-1B visa holders were not eligible to enter the US.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association posted on its website that members informed it that some H-1B visa holders were returned by CPB officers when they attempted to enter the US late last month through the Newark New Jersey airport. The news hit the internet like a frenzy and I began receiving calls from clients with concerns that the CPB officers in fact were already implementing the third party Neufeld memo on arriving H-1B visa.

Apparently, AILA reported that a meeting with CPB officers indicate those returned were employees of companies that had been under investigation for possible fraud. In other words, the USCIS had been investigating the employers and had placed the employees on the watch list which precipitated the CPB officers to question the arriving employee. Once these employees arrived, they were questioned further and were returned.

It is important to note that these situations happen every day and that the Newark International Airport is not singling H-1B visa holders in an effort to enforce the Neufeld Memo.

New Inspection Policy

One thing that was revealed in the recent communications with CPB officers is that a new policy was instituted at the Newark International Airport whereby H-1B and L-1 visa holders will randomly be detoured to a secondary inspection process and are further questioned about their employers. The information that was relayed through AILA is that if the CPB officers believed there were discrepancies in their answers that the employee will be asked to withdraw his request to enter the US by leaving voluntarily. If the alien refused to do so, then the CPB officers will initiate expedited removal.

This is obviously very concerning because now CPB officers are acting as Judge and Jury in understanding what our clients do and whether their answers raise any flags. I can enumerate many situations which may raise concerns for an untrained CPB officer. For instance, some of my clients are “roving employees” who travel from one end client site to another; as such they could cause concerns that they are not necessarily “working” at the main office of the petitioning employer. Some of my clients may appear nervous during a second inspection in front of an overzealous officer, a situation which may cause the CPB officer to think that the employee/client is hiding something. I have had clients in situation not involving H-1B visas where an overzealous and undertrained CPB officer really made life very difficult for an exhausted client who had been on an air vessel for 15 hours.

These situations underscore the need for more training for CPB officers so that they are aware of all the possible situations which a bona fide H-1B visa worker may be engaged in. In addition, more training is needed for the H-1B visa employee so that the know how to confront these situations better. More on this in the near future.

If you have questions about an immigration visa or green card matter, and/or you need help in an immigration process, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney. Our law firm handles various matters including Green Cards and Permanent Residence, family immigration, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, employment visas and H1B visas, Investor Visas, PERM applications, and many more. Please contact us and experience how our law firm can assist you in your immigration matters. Whether you are an employer, an employee or a family member, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA has competent, responsive and innovative lawyers who can make your immigration experience pleasant and seamless.