What Happens When You’re Denied Entry into the US at the Airport?

If you are denied entry into the United States after a long flight, you might be tempted to argue with the airport officials. Do not argue. Many foreign travelers are denied entry into the US at airport terminals everyday. The causes may vary because of the traveler’s background.



Background Denials Might Include:

• Criminal history
• Prior US entry denial
• Suspicions of malicious intent
• Problems with paperwork
• Conflicts with travel documentation

The most common reason individuals are turned away at an airport is paperwork. Travelers may have overstayed a prior visa or passport allowance. They may even have expired documentation.

It is rare for most travelers to be denied entry into the States because of criminal background problems, but this can cause trouble. However, if you have been refused entry into the United States at any point in the past, even for an expired passport, prior denial is reason enough for future denial.

Steps to Follow When Denied Entry to the US at the Airport

You will probably be standing in the airport terminal when you discover that you have been denied entrance into the United States. When you receive this bad news you must follow these steps before doing anything else.


1. Ask for patience: If you can avoid having your record officially entered as denied entry, you will benefit in the long run: ask to call a lawyer first if possible.  Niren and Associates has lots of experience helping people out who have been denied entry, and can provide the guidance you’ll need to overturn the decision, if possible.
2. Ask follow-up questions: Do so in a calm, nonthreatening manner and accept no for an answer. If you are shown disrespect, remain calm and continue to ask questions.
3. Take notes: It is very important to write the responses to each of your questions regarding your denied entry. Be as detailed as possible.
4. Find a quiet place to collect your details: You want to pay special attention to your paperwork at this time. You will likely have been given the reason for your denial. Recheck all paperwork to confirm the details of your entry refusal.
5. Call a lawyer: If you have not established a lawyer for a case such as this, take the opportunity to contact one like Niren and Associates and relay the details of your case appropriately.

What A Lawyer Will Do:

Once an immigration attorney learns about your denied US access, he or she will go to work on your case and help you solve the rejection of your visa. It is possible and likely that you will find a solution that will allow you into the country if you followed the steps regarding your rejection.

Certainly, if you have a criminal background and were denied for that reason, or if you do not have the proper paperwork, or if you did not respectfully navigate your interactions with US airport employees, you might be in a dead end case. If you are worried about being denied entry to the US at the airport, a lawyer can help you to take the next important steps to gain US access or return safely home for further work on your travel documentation.

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25 Responses to “What Happens When You’re Denied Entry into the US at the Airport?”

  1. Dave jameson says:

    Hi I have a question for you if you have been denied entry from canada to the U.S. because of a criminal record what can you do if you own property in the U.S. and have been denied a waiver thank you

    • owen says:

      Hello Dave,

      If you still want to enter the US, the best option would be re-applying for a waiver of inadmissibility. We can certainly assist with this, so please don’t hesitate to contact us to setup a consultation with one of our experienced immigration lawyers.


  2. Prasad says:

    Hello, My wife was denied from airport, she had b1-b2 visa. They revoke the visa put some stamp in back… When i file through sponsor immigration, they said to file waiver too. it did happen in feb-2009. i did not file the waiver that time. Now i want to start that whole process again. Where i can start from. please guide me step by step.

    • owen says:

      Hello Prasad,

      Thanks for the question. We would be happy to do the waiver/family sponsorship on your behalf, and we would take a look at the reason your wife was previously denied entry and try to strengthen her application accordingly. We can also provide your wife with an entry package if she wishes to temporarily visit the US. Please let us know if your require further assistance.


  3. Duel says:

    I was denial entry this last week ,because I dint option. 1-20 from the school, I had M1 visa and I had travelled in July to sept and wanted to go back and finish up but I was denied entry and my 2yrs visa was cancelled . The stamp reads like this##CANCELLATION FOR ADMISSION WITHDRAW## how do I know if am banned? And if my fiancé applies me a fiancé visa will I have some problems? Pliz advise……

    • owen says:

      Hello Duel,

      You may not be banned from entering the US, you may just have been denied admission on one particular occasion. We can provide you with an entry package which will minimize the chance that you will be denied entry at the border. Please contact us if you require further assistance.


  4. Cynthia says:

    Im hoping someone can help me. I have an Iranian friend who has been trying to come to USA for 3 years now. He has went through everything and tried every thing possible. He even hired a lawyer and was finally granted a tourist visa. I didnt realize until recently that even if you get a tourist visa that its only good for leaving your current country but not guaranteed that you are allowed into USA at port of entry. My friend was suppose to come here in mid June, it’s now December and I havent even heard from him since we last spoke online the day of his flight. What could have happened? If they are denied and dont want to go back to their country, they put them in some kind of camp? Is that true? And how long do they have to stay there? How long until they are allowed to contact family/friends? I am sooo worried about him, he is like family and I cant imagine what hes going through. Its not like him to contat me if he were able to so I know something is very wrong. Does anyone know about what happens if they are denied entry to USA.. what options they are given? And if they are held somewhere, does anyone know the name of the organization? I really need some help, thank you!

    • owen says:

      Hello Cynthia,

      Your friend could have been denied entry to the US. Immigration officials at the border can deny anyone entry into the US under certain circumstances. It is possible your friend was sent back to their home country or is in a detention center in the US. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions.


  5. samuel says:

    thanks for this site please i was denied entry in to the us and a paper was giving to me asking me to go back with it were i was issued the visa.his reason for denying me is because my flight ticket has has a retuning in three months while i was suppose to stay in the us for 1week please what do i do…

    • owen says:

      Hello Samuel,

      You could try getting a new ticket for a flight that departs within the next week, as that seems to have been an important consideration for the officer. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.


  6. Kim Hughes says:

    My fiance’ (a UK citizen) was denied entry to the US in Vancouver, BC on 12/9/2014 (yesterday) for not having significant ties to his home country (ie: does not own property and is currently unemployed). He has been booked on a flight back to London on 12/10/2014 (today). He is part of the Visa Waiver program and has made this same trip at least 8 times since 2009 and never has had this brought up. Is there anything that can be done to overturn this before he is sent back to the UK? I am a US citizen born and bred in Oregon but I do not know what I can do to help him in this situation. They treated him as a criminal when he never has not returned to his home country.

    • owen says:

      Hello Kim,

      Thanks for the question. I’m sorry to hear that your fiance was denied entry to the US. The border officers do have the authority to deny entry to anyone for any reason they deem to be appropriate. At this point you should get in touch with one of our experienced immigration lawyers who can help to prevent him from being returned to the UK, and we can maximize his chances of gaining entry to the US by addressing those issues of unemployment and lack of property that you mentioned. Where is he staying when he goes back to the UK-that could be considered his property even if he is living with a friend or family member and paying some rent.


  7. Rasmus says:

    I have been in the US since july on the 3 month turist visa (ESTA) in september I left to Columbia and thereby extended my visit another 3 months. I am an athlete who travel the US and play tournaments and train. In December I am going home to Denmark for the holidays and I am planning on coming back in january to play a few tournaments and do a roadtrip with two friends. I am a bit afraid to get denied as I have been here in almost 6 months already.
    But what happens if I get denied? Do they send me home the same day and do I have to pay for the flight? and will it have any consequences on the long run to get denied?
    Thank you very much for taking the time.

    • owen says:

      Hello Rasmus,

      If you get denied then you will typically be sent home on the next flight if you arrive by plane. If you overstayed your previous visa then you may encounter difficulties entering the US, however we specialize in cases involving inadmissibility and can help you maximize the chances that you will be permitted to enter the US.Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.


  8. JACKSON REILY says:


    • owen says:

      Hello Jackson,

      Thank you for the question. If your friend is a US citizen, it will be very difficult for the border officers to deny him entry into the U.S. even if there is some sort of mistake or error in some of his paperwork. That being said, it is still theoretically possible for your friend to be denied entry in certain circumstances, and if that occurs, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us as we would be glad to assist him.


  9. June says:

    My partner has a criminal record for drunk and dissordaly and a caution for possessing a small amount of class a when he was younger.
    He applied for a visa and attended the interview in london at the embassy.
    He was told as it was a while ago everything was ok and the issued him with a 10 year multiple entry visa into his passport.
    The visa was a B2 visa
    We flew to the states on a family holiday and at the airport he was questioned and refused entry.
    The officials were saying something about him needing a waiver.
    He was interviewed , refused entry and we came home on the same plane we went there on.
    Please help will he be able to reapply and go back for a holiday as they did say we could reapply but I wasnt sure if the refusal wall have ann impact on future decissions.

    • owen says:

      Hello June,

      I am sorry to hear that your partner was denied entry to the US, and it does seem like they will need a waiver in order for their visa application to be successful, and we would be happy to guide you through the complex process of obtaining a waiver so that your partner can enter the US with you


    • owen says:

      Hello June,

      I am sorry to hear that your partner was denied entry to the US, and it does seem like they will need a waiver in order for their visa application to be successful, and we would be happy to guide you through the complex process of obtaining a waiver so that your partner can enter the US with you. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any further questions.


  10. Miguel says:

    Hi, I have been 68 days in the US with visitor ESTA and I need to come back to Europe for only 7-9 days to come back to the US. So my ESTA would not be over when I come back but I need to stay for 6 weeks.

    I have an “Invitation Letter” from my US office and I will carry with me my flight dates, my applicable contract in the Netherlands.
    Do you think I might be refused to get back in?

    Thank you

    • Sarah Jane MacDonald says:

      Hello Miguel,
      It is possible, yes. Best that you fill out our online assessment form in order for one of our Immigration Team Members to review your details and contact you directly.

      Sarah Jane

  11. Elena says:

    My inlaws who have had their I visas for over ten years and have always went back on time got denied their entry at the atl air port because of a one time over stay of five to ten days … Which was the one and only time they did. They were sent back … What can we do to get everything back so they are able to come since they have been back twice since that over stay and just now being denied?

    • Hello Elana

      Thanks for the question. Your inlaws may need a TRP to enter Canada or possibility what we call an “entry package” showing they are not a risk of offending any immigration rules. We or another law firm can help

  12. Steph says:

    What Happens if you are denied entry at the airport. We are from Australia and spending a week in the USA and then 4 weeks in Canada. If we are denied can we choose to fly straight to Canada. Any Information on this would be hugely appreciated.

    • Hello Steph

      If you are denied at the US airport they could send you right back. The option of going to another country may not be available so would not count on that. The best thing to do is to make sure you have your paperwork prepared in advance before making the trip to the USA. Michael

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