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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, user 56513, David Richerby, fkraiem, Ali Awan Sep 6 '18 at 5:34

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  • There is surely no single procedure used throughout the world or even "in Asia". And, in many cases, what they check will depend on what you say to them. – David Richerby Sep 8 '18 at 10:37
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There are a few key things an immigration official is looking to verify:

  1. 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.).
  2. That you meet the requirements for entry (no criminal record, healthy, etc)
  3. That this documentation is authentic.
  4. 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.

Fun!

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    And on point 3, I've had Omani officials look carefully through every page of the passport and ask me which country issued a visa which they apparently didn't recognise. – Peter Taylor Sep 5 '18 at 16:49
  • Have you also been to Ukraine? How would they treat a Nordic citizen let's say? – Hosain Sadeqi Sep 5 '18 at 17:52
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    At Kiev Boryspil, they looked at the ID page, asked what the purpose of my visit was ("tourism" was a good enough one word answer), and stamped my passport (at the back, interestingly). I hold dual Irish and Canadian citizenship, so I would assume Nordic nationals would be treated similarly. – Richard Sep 5 '18 at 18:02
  • @PeterTaylor Given the region I assume it was part of the search for evidence of a visit to Israel – Richard Sep 5 '18 at 18:03
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    I've experienced a check on the Swiss-German border (probably looking for illegal immigrants) where the officer thoroghly checked the ID of the romanian (?) guy in front of me asking him all kinds of questions - and then cast a short glance at my (german) ID from a distance, I doubt he was able to match the picture to my face, let alone read my name or check the validity or whatnot... – Sabine Sep 5 '18 at 19:45
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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.

  • The list of passengers is apparently reviewed by the intelligence bodies before the aircraft can even take off I'd assume. Do you think the airline will hand the list of passengers to the destination border control so that they would check the passports against a list? – Hosain Sadeqi Sep 5 '18 at 17:55
  • @HosainSadeqi, this list is transmitted before takeoff, and if a passenger goes missing in between there would be an investigation. Why are you asking this, by the way? Do you want to understand what you will face yourself in a normal landing interview? If so, you should really specify where you are going. Or are you worried that you might be mistakenly on the No-Fly List? – o.m. Sep 5 '18 at 18:04
  • exactly! I am curious to know what I can be asked at the arrival immigration and if the border officer would check the flight list in case I lose my boarding pass. – Hosain Sadeqi Sep 5 '18 at 20:41
  • @HosainSadeqi It's fairly common that the transport company which brought them is jointly liable for the cost of removing travellers who are refused entry at the border, so yes, there are procedures to match passengers to airlines. – origimbo Sep 5 '18 at 23:08
  • If you lose your boarding pass, you will miss the flight while you try to get another one. Lose it after boarding, no one cares. – WGroleau Sep 6 '18 at 0:13

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