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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

YOU MIGHT WANT TO GOOGLE YOURSELF BEFORE BOARDING THAT PLANE

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I've read some news accounts of this happening, but I heard for myself a story from a new client that seems to confirm that CBP officers are indeed searching the web to see if they can find information to ensnare people seeking entry to the US. The person I spoke to today was denied entry because he had a web site for a small business set up. The client indicated that the business never actually got to the point of being operational and the web site was created a few years ago when the person was a student (he was just seeking entry as a tourist on this trip), but that was enough to convince the officer to put the client back on a plane home.



There was highly publicized case recently where a Canadian professor was held to be a habitual drug user based on an admission in an interview that he experimented with LSD in the 1960s.



So if you're thinking of putting anything on your MySpace or Facebook page or something on your web site that you don't want to have to explain to a border officer, you might want to exercise some restraint.

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Comments

  1. Anon's Avatar
    Surely you can just say that it was someone else with the same name. I have a very common name, you can't actually find me by googling, but you can find 100 other people with the same name. Some run businesses, some have drug arrests and parole violations, some are internationally famous in their fields. Do I have to prove that I am not these people?
  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Welcome to the world of no due process. Consular and port of entry officers have virtually unfettered discretion to decide a case and you have no right to appeal. You can answer however you like, but an officer can just ignore you.
  3. John, I mean Jim's Avatar
    That's why you never use your real name, ever. Not to mention ID theft!
  4. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I always get an interesting reaction when I tell the CBP officer that I'm an immigration lawyer. I usually get a groan or a chuckle.
  5. Lin's Avatar
    Hi, Greg, I have a related question on this. I will appreciate your input. I have a personal blog - not as popular as yours - and was contacted by some ads company who asked me to put some ads on my website. They will pay me monthly. I am holding H1B visa now. Someone told me that it is illegal to accept this kind of money. I did think it worth the risk so I refused the offer. Do you think it is OK to accept ads money for a personal blog? How about some popular ads service such as Google Adsense and Yahoo Ads? Thank you very much.
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    I would be careful because I think earning ad money could be construed as self employment, something that is not permitted.
  7. Lin's Avatar
    Wow, thank you very much for your quick response, Greg.
    Fixed my typo: "I did think it worth the risk" -> "I didn't think it worth the risk".
  8. guyfromsg's Avatar
    You mean the CBP officer starts the search when you handover the passport and whatever information comes from google search makes a decision. Wow..that's really jumping to conclusion. Do they even have Internet access from their post?

    It would make sense if the visa officer does this when we go for stamping. The application is submitted long time in advance and they have time to do due dilegence.
  9. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Gurfromsg- These are the port of entry inspectors and you're right that it could really be misused.
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