United States of America: Immigration inspection procedure for arriving and departing international passengers, particularly at the Los Angeles International Airport; whether an arriving foreigner could only be asked "is this your passport?" and be admitted; whether an agent could answer this or other questions for the traveller; and whether a foreigner can depart on a direct flight abroad without identity documents
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 August 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||USA29892.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, United States of America: Immigration inspection procedure for arriving and departing international passengers, particularly at the Los Angeles International Airport; whether an arriving foreigner could only be asked "is this your passport?" and be admitted; whether an agent could answer this or other questions for the traveller; and whether a foreigner can depart on a direct flight abroad without identity documents, 1 August 1998, USA29892.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aba91c.html [accessed 19 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The information that follows was provided by the information desk of the office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at Los Angeles International Airport during a 13 August 1998 telephone interview.
Immigration inspection of arriving foreigners is carried out by an immigration officer. As standard procedure, all arriving foreigners are asked more than one question, which may refer to the purpose of travel, length of stay, and amount of money being brought into the country. The question "is this your passport?" is one of the standard questions normally asked, but is not the only one.
If the arriving foreigner does not speak English, he or she will be referred to an officer who speaks other languages. If there is no officer who speaks the language of the person, then an airline representative will be asked to interpret; if there is no airline representative able to interpret, then a representative from the Visitor Service at the airport would be asked to assist (multilingual Visitor Service representatives are often available at the immigration queuing area). Failing this, the officer would resort to the telephone translation service at their disposal. Only as a very last resort would officers request that another person travelling on the same flight provide translation service. The translation service of travel agents or accompanying passengers is generally avoided, as it could facilitate an alien smuggling operation. If an attempt to enter or stay illegally in the United States is suspected, the arriving foreigner would be held until a reliable interpreting service is available.
If the primary inspection officer is satisfied that the arriving person meets the criteria to enter the United States, the passport will be stamped and the person will be allowed to enter the country. If the primary inspection officer is not satisfied, the person will be referred to secondary examination, where an interview or more detailed questioning will take place.
Control of persons departing on an international flight from Los Angeles International Airport is carried out by the airline carrier. Airlines require at least one valid identity document, and often two, from each passenger. Airlines have to submit to the INS a list confirming the identity of departing passengers for each flight. For international travel, airlines always check that the person has valid travel documents, because carrying a passenger without proper travel documents would likely result in fines or other penalty by the country of destination.
The information desk stated that these procedures are standard at all United States international airports.
For additional information on departing control procedures at Los Angeles International Airport, please refer to Response to Information Request USA26385.E of 7 March 1997.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Los Angeles International Airport. 13 August 1998. Telephone interview with information desk staff.