Coming from a Turkish heritage and having a Turkish-sounding name (I don't speak the language), could I be refused entry into a country such as America?

I attached a very recent article about a man being refused into the USA even though having the correct paperwork.

Metro newspaper

Photo of refusal stamp "INA Section 217"

Although they were never told why they were denied entry, Natasha suspects it was because of her husband’s Turkish name and origin. Ali is British, however, and holds a British passport.

‘I am in utter shock that this has happened,’ she said. ‘We had just got married, we were on our way to our honeymoon as excited as anything, and never expected that we would be deported.

Also reported in Time magazine

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    I don't think that immigration officials have to justify their decisions, particularly as we have recently seen in many cases, American immigration officials. So, yes, you could be denied entry, even though the chances might be small. Though, with what could be perceived as a more 'muslim' sounding name, your chances might be a bit higher.
    – MastaBaba
    Nov 3, 2017 at 23:57
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    Turkish Americans, Thousands immigrate every year. I expect many more visit. Nov 5, 2017 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


In a nutshell, no, the USA will not deny entry because of your name. The article (which, incidentally, is from a free newspaper with low journalistic standards) even admits that the couple was not told why they were refused entry, and that the "Turkish name" thing is just the wife's theory:

Although they were never told why they were denied entry, Natasha suspects it was because of her husband’s Turkish name and origin.

The refusal stamp references INA 217, which in turns means that they may have been denied entry for any of the reasons in Section 212.

So what was the actual reason? Given that we have near-zero data to go on, it's difficult to speculate, but presumably the story they told at Immigration didn't match up with what they said when applying for the visa, or they raised suspicion that they were planning to work and/or overstay in the US. (You will also note that Section 212, which is the complete list of reasons why you may be denied entry to the US, says nothing about having a "Muslim name" or anything remotely similar.)

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    google.co.uk/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/4874047/… i read this article his first request for a visa was denied but the second one was not and he had all the correct documents upon arrival. Perhaps its because he was denied the visa first and something along them lines.
    – user67204
    Nov 3, 2017 at 22:07
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    But overall, I wasn’t convinced does it. And you are not authorized to request a more specific reason from the officer. His manager might be, but he wouldn’t care. There is no formal way to force them to give a clear cut rand provable eason (as there can often be no clear cut and provable reason)
    – Aganju
    Nov 4, 2017 at 3:25
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    @jpatokal For immigration purposes, the justification often boils down to not much more than 'my gut feeling tells me not to trust you' and the gut feeling can of course be influenced by the assumed origin of an applicant's name. Nov 4, 2017 at 9:33
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    I know someone who's name is exactly one letter different from one you would see in an ISIS related headline and he never has any problems.
    – DTRT
    Nov 4, 2017 at 18:41
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    I’d say that obviously there won’t be any official rules about names, but it would be foolish to deny that a scary-sounding name couldn’t possibly have an effect on the admittance or refusal. Nov 5, 2017 at 11:38

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