“Deferred Inspection” is immigration “limbo.” This happens when a person arrives in the US and cannot completely satisfy the Border Agent of their admissibility, but the agent does not believe that they are a risk. The person is not officially “admitted” to the United States, but they are allowed to enter the United States and are not in custody.
Sometimes a border agent cannot make a determination a the port of entry of the person’s immigration status, but does not believe that the person is a risk to the U.S. This can occur if an individual does not have sufficient documentation when (s)he first applies for admission at the border or if there are open questions. When this happens, the person will be temporarily allowed into the United States using a process called “parole.” The decision whether to grant such a temporary entry is conferred to that office’s discretion. I have purposely avoided using the word “admitted” in this post because admission is a legal term of art in immigration.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has more than 70 deferred inspection locations scattered throughout the United States. Most of them are located at international airports. The Detroit site is at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. It is located in the lowest level at the McNamara terminal near the international arrivals greeting area.
According to the policy directive governing these entries, the agent should consider:
- the likelihood the applicant will be able to establish his/her admissibility;
- the type of documents needed and the ability to obtain them;
- the good faith effort of the applicant to obtain documents prior to arrival at the port of entry;
- verification of the applicant’s identity and nationality;
- age, health, and family ties of the applicant;
- other humanitarian considerations;
- likelihood that applicant would appear at deferred inspection;
- the nature of the ground of inadmissibility’
- the danger to society if the applicant is paroled into the United States.
A person granted such status will be issued a form I-546 detailing the information and documents that they should bring with them to the meeting. There is a limited ability to have counsel present at this meeting. An attorney may appear with permission if the supervising inspector believes it is appropriate. The attorney is there as an observer and or consultant and cannot directly advocate for the person. If the person misses the meeting, they will be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge and their name will be added to the National Automated Immigration Lookout system or “NAIL.”
At the meeting, the officer will review the information requested in the I-546n, and make appropriate determinations. The officer may decide to formally admit you, to continue your parole, to allow you to withdraw your application for admission, or to issue you a Notice to Appear, which places you in removal proceedings. In some cases, they may choose to detain someone pending removal proceedings.
Staff at these sites can also review and issue the necessary documents to remedy errors recorded on arrival documents issued at the time of entry to the United States relating to improper non-immigrant classification, inaccurate biographical information or incorrect period of admission, if appropriate. Deferred inspection stations at airports operate on a walk-in basis and can assist a person even if that is not where the person entered the United States. For other locations, persons should call and schedule an appointment.