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Increased Scrutiny on Travel Documents May Delay or Disrupt International Travel

15 Dec

Due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, all U.S. government agencies involved in immigration and security processes have been directed to review procedures. Immigration Inspectors and the airlines that have contractual arrangements with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been reminded of their existing obligations, which appears to be leading to the implementation of unusually strict interpretations. There is a “no exceptions” approach to all policies related to admission into the U.S. This includes being more restrictive on minor travel and document-related issues than in the past, including for U.S. citizens.

The new normal is to expect that all U.S. immigration related filings, applications, and admissions will undergo a much higher level of scrutiny and review than in the past. Specifically, there have been recent instances where minor issues such as having a slightly damaged or “frayed” passport, which was previously accepted for travel, are now the basis for denying the boarding of an international flight. Additionally, Blanket L visa holders and their dependent family members have been refused entry if they do not have a current, stamped, Form I-129S copy with them. Foreign nationals are reminded to thoroughly review their documents, including the expiration dates of their passports and visa stamps in their passport, prior to international travel. Foreign nationals, especially those entering the U.S. under a Blanket L-visa, are also reminded to obtain and review their I-94 records upon admission to the U.S. To obtain the electronic I‐94 record, go to the CBP website at www.cbp.gov/i94 for instructions.

Foster continues to advise all travelers to review their travel documents well in advance of any planned international travel to ensure that all documents are up to date, valid, correct, and are in pristine condition. This heightened level of review and scrutiny is expected to continue both in the U.S. and globally as governments and the agencies responsible for immigration and security both review and revise their internal procedures accordingly. It is anticipated that new measures will be put in place, including to combat passport forgery and restrict the admission of individuals who have potential ties to terrorism or who have traveled to a country that has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

As always, Foster attorneys are available to answer specific travel-related questions and provide additional information regarding the requirements for international travel. Foster also provides periodic updates on the firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.