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My fiancee, a US citizen has been working in Ghana. He hasn't been in the States for almost 2 years now. He just flew into JFK on 12/19/2022 and is being held by immigration/customs. He has been told his passport doesn't have updated stamps from Ghana. Can they do that?

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    Did you ever meet this man in person? Is he asking you for money? Please see travel.stackexchange.com/questions/104281/…
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 16:38
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    This sounds like a scam. Is the person trying to get you to pay "for his release" or "for his attorney" or anything similar?
    – littleadv
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 17:14
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    "US citizen", "held by immigration", "updated stamps from Ghana"? 101% scam. But the perplexing part is "my fiance". Is he really your fiance, as in, you have been engaged during a PERSONAL meeting or are you using the term loosely? Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 17:30
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    This has all the hallmarks of a scam. I do hope you didn’t finance his ticket ro the US, if it is a scam he will not even have left Ghana (if that’s actually where he is).
    – Traveller
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 19:01
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    US immigration officers do not generally check stamps from other countries.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 2:01

1 Answer 1

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In a general sense, no, they can NOT do that.

A US citizen can not be denied entry to the US. They can be detained if US Border Patrol believes that they may not actually be a US citizen and are presenting falsified documentation in an attempt to enter the country, but it is extremely unlikely that such a passenger would be detained for 3 days if they were actually a US citizen, which makes it highly likely this is not what's happened. They can also be detained if they have an outstanding warrant, but it's unlikely they would still be in CBP custody after 3 days if that was the case (as opposed to having been handed over to law enforcement).

This leads to two more likely possibilities - the person is NOT a US citizen and is trying to use fake/stolen documentation to enter the US, or the story you're being given is not correct.

With the information you've provided it's not possible to know exactly what is occurring, however the story sounds similar to one used as a part of scams often run by foreigners to trick people into providing money to people they have never met. The US Consulate in Ghana has a page dedicated to such scams. You can also reference our generic question on travel-related scams: My online friend is asking for money in order to visit my home country. Is this a legit request or a scam?

If this person is someone that you have not met in person, then whatever you do, do NOT provide any financial assistance to help them get out of their current situation, as the odds are that you are being scammed and will never see the person or the money again.

If you have met the person, and have actually known them for some time then obviously this likely isn't the case.

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    If the person tells you to phone their parents in the US and to tell them to find the birth certificate, this may possibly be legit. Someone may be able to email but not to phone. But if the person asks for money, this is certainly a scam.
    – o.m.
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 18:28

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