Airport to airport
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - July 7, 2019 - 12:00am

I’m sure most of you have heard the term “airport to airport” which means that a person arrived in the US but wasn’t allowed to enter by agents of US Customs and Border Protection and instead ordered returned back to the Philippines on the next available flight. This is what happened to Mr. A. who called me earlier this week.

Mr. A was issued a multiple-entry US tourist visa in 2011. He went in and out of the US every year and stayed for at least six months each visit. There were no problems until 2014 when he arrived in California and was interrogated in a room at the airport.

Mr. A was asked specific details as to his activities. During questioning he was asked whether or not he worked while he was there. He answered no. He was asked if there was ever a time he received payment for some service he did. He answered: “Well, my neighbor paid me $15 for babysitting his son for a couple of days a week.” He was then asked if he realized that babysitting for a fee was considered work under immigration law, and without a work permit while under a tourist visa, he wasn’t supposed to do that. He answered he didn’t consider it work as his babysitting wasn’t permanent and it only lasted for about a month. The CBP agent told him it was still considered work and by his own admission, Mr. A violated the terms of his visa and wouldn’t be allowed entry into the US. He was then ordered to take the next PAL flight bound for Manila.

That was about five years ago. Fast forward to today, he now has an available immigrant visa arising from his father's petition. He applied for an immigrant visa at the US Consulate and was denied because of prior visa violation and denial of entry into the US in 2014. He was advised to file a waiver.

Lesson: Don’t ever attempt to work while on a US tourist visa, even at such menial and innocent-looking jobs such as babysitting, carwashing, pumping gasoline, etc. Somehow, US immigration authorities have a way of knowing that you violated the terms of your visa and it would be more challenging and difficult to overturn that denial. As in the case of Mr. A, he faces a daunting task of applying for a waiver that would be more costly and time-consuming, with no assurance of being approved. This is not to mention that he now has his own family who was expecting that their lives would change once they migrated to the US.

mtomakin@gmail.com

AIRPORT
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