When you arrive to a country by airplane and you go through the border control, what the immigration officer really does behind the counter? In Asia, I assume they firstly check if your passport needs a visa or not, secondly they check your passport data and I have noticed they also scan it for record purposes and lastly they take a photo of you by asking you to look at their camera. What else would they do? Would there be a passport authenticity check by placing it under a specific machine or it's just the scanner? Would they check your data against a possible flight list?
closed as too broad by Dirty-flow, cHiEf Immigration vIoLaTer, David Richerby, fkraiem, Ali Awan Sep 6 '18 at 5:34
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There are a few key things an immigration official is looking to verify:
- That you possess the correct documentation for travel (this includes establishing the purpose of your journey to determine the visa required (if any), return tickets (if required), etc.).
- That you meet the requirements for entry (no criminal record, healthy, etc)
- That this documentation is authentic.
- That you are the valid holder of this documentation.
There are a lot of different approaches to each of these. I've literally held my passport against the window of the bus as I entered Albania from Kosovo, I've had machines do automated facial recognition in the EU, I've had a Finnish border guard ask her supervisor if my passport card was a real thing, I've had Kazakh border guards look at my passport and then at a list of visa-free countries, I've had Belorussian guards blacklight and microscope my passport and check my travel insurance and I've had US border guards subtly quiz me on the spot to determine my intentions.
that depends very much on the country in question, and also on the nationality of the passenger.
- Some nations see the visa merely as a first step to be allowed to talk to an immigration official, who makes the final decision. In other cases the official just determines if the visa is genuine and if there is a reason to revoke it on the spot. In the first case, the "real" immigration interview is at the airport; in the second case, what happens at the airport is merely a double-check.
- Sometimes there is a visa on arrival. Sometimes visa-free visitors get a stamp.
- And of course there is also a check if the documents are genuine and belong to the applicant, and if the applicant is on some wanted list.
There are also attempts to identify visitors before they even get into the aircraft towards the destination. The airlines submit lists of names and other data, and intelligence agencies make a threat assessment. Just what is in this data and what is done with it has been controversial, e.g. between the EU and US.