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A strange question that sprung to mind. Let's say somebody traveled to USA from another country and immigration wanted to see proof of their ties to back home...

The alien presents pay slips, job contract etc. but also provides a return ticket which is international first class. Would the cost of the ticket play a factor in the border officer's decision to allow/refuse the alien entry? My thinking was that an intending immigrant would be less likely to pay for a return first class for a few thousand if he did not intend to use the return ticket.

I ask because I was collating my documents for a future trip to the USA and I paid for an upgraded seat (premium economy lol) and this question sprung to mind and I thought it'd be interesting to see the responses.

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    If you book a first-class ticket, and the payslips make it harder to believe that you could afford a first-class ticket, I will question the authenticity of the ticket. If however, the payslips show high income, the ticket class makes no difference, I guess. Jan 29, 2020 at 23:45
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    You assume that someone looking to start a new life illegally in a high-income (relative to where they came from) country would think twice about a few thousand dollars - human traffickers regularly charge tens of thousands for the opportunity of getting into western countries these days. If spending $5000 on a first class ticket would guarantee someone entry (or even just support their entry) then there are people out there who wouldn't think twice about throwing that money away.
    – Moo
    Jan 30, 2020 at 0:07
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    @MasterPlanTakeo it shouldn't. Because if it did, it's a vector for abuse.
    – Moo
    Jan 30, 2020 at 0:17
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    Refundable tickets make this still difficult to prove to Immigration, doesn't it? I could buy the expensive first class ticket, and then just cancel it and get it refunded once I get there...
    – Midavalo
    Jan 30, 2020 at 1:17
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    Guarantee, definitely not. But like the way you dress or talk, it is certain to have an influence, even if subliminal and completely subjective. How much of an influence, that’s another matter.
    – jcaron
    Jan 30, 2020 at 2:26

1 Answer 1

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Let's say somebody traveled to USA from another country and immigration wanted to see proof of their ties to back home...

That's typically not the job of immigration but "ties back home" are most often formally assess during a Visa application.

Would the cost of the ticket play a factor in the border officer's decision to allow/refuse the alien entry?

Possibly. The may check the ticket to make sure you have a return flight (although that has never happened to me). If they do, that may see the fare class and it may affect their decision one way or the other.

US immigration officer have a depressingly large amount of discretion, so they can give you hard time for any or no reason at all (which has happened a lot to me). What these reasons might be and which way they move the needle is anyone's guess. They may not care, they may be jealous that you get to fly first and they do not, or they may feel that you are safe to enter since you got lots of discretionary income. Could go either way or no way at all.

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    There's a lot of speculation in this answer. How can you know that they may be jealous, for example? It's surely not official policy to try and look unprofessional and arbitrary. The guy at the bottom of the hierarchy still has to do some explaining to the person up him. Jan 30, 2020 at 15:40
  • Not in my experience. I've seen extremely unprofessional behavior of US immigration officials and there doesn't seem to be little accountability or oversight. Example: we had an officer giving us a really hard time although I paper work was perfectly fine. His reason was: "he is overworked and underpaid".
    – Hilmar
    Feb 5, 2020 at 11:26

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