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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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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