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I visited Pakistan, to visit my family, and upon arrival home, I was asked questions, such as why did I visit. I was born in the USA, I'm in my twenties, and have visited Pakistan before.

I was surprised to be questioned. To be fair, I was only questioned for no more than 5 minutes. It's just that as an American, it felt weird to be questioned and waiting in a room to answer questions about my trip at home(in the USA). I'd expect to be questioned elsewhere, not when arriving home.

Will I always be questioned now?

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When you come back into the country where you live (as a permanent resident or citizen), they have to let you in - eventually. But they may want to ask you a few things first, for a variety of reasons:

  • they want to be sure you're really you, not someone you met in Pakistan and handed your passport to (or someone who robbed or tricked you), as a way to enable them to enter the USA easily
  • they want to find out if there's any reason to search your baggage for drugs, weapons, or other contraband
  • there's a small chance the moment you see anyone with uniform or in an authority position, you'll blurt out the details of a terror plot that you've been sent to carry out, so they start a conversation with you to see if that might happen. This is a long shot, regardless of where you're coming from or what you look like, so don't assume it's their primary motivation.

You're a citizen. You're allowed in. Sometimes it takes a little while to establish that, and to settle whether your stuff is allowed in too. It's hard not to feel upset by that, but in my experience when I come back to my country from anywhere (the US, Europe, anywhere) they ask where I was and why I went there. They're not implying I shouldn't have gone or that I better have a darn good reason. It's just what they ask.

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    Thank you Kate, you made me feel better. I guess I felt a bit insulted since I like to think I'm pretty well educated, and by now they'd have know in their records that I'd be willing to die to defend my country(USA). But I suppose as a Muslim American, being questioned upon arrival is perhaps an expectation that I have to get used too. – AmericanCitizen Sep 28 '14 at 20:45
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This is common if you are visiting not only from Pakistan but other countries as well. You are in your 20s this happened also to a friend's father who was a retired UN officer (of Pakistani origin) residing in the US for the past 40+ years.

So, take heart that its not only you.

As Pakistan is a country that people visit to transit into Afghanistan and further afield for questionable causes, it is normal that customs (well, immigration really) to question you especially as you are of the age where most people are recruited.

Now, this is not to say anything about you personally - I am sure they are checking anyone that also fits your profile.

They questioned by my brother who was returning back to boarding school as well - he was traveling from Saudi Arabia.

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This is called secondary inspection,normally don't take but few minutes in most cases. Don't take it on heart, routine stuff that officers perform some times for our own safety. As long as you are clear nothing to worry about. I have been through this several times.

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It's the job of customs and immigration to establish your purpose for visit, and whether you're doing what you say you're doing.

If they have any doubts, questions or are merely curious, they can and will as part of their job, ask you questions. Naturally this should be only about your plans in the country - if they start asking personal, potentially rude questions you could ask to speak to a supervisor.

However, it's simply up to the official on the day to decide if they're happy to let you in (within their guidelines). One official might just be curious why an American is coming to Pakistan. Another might not care at all, and let you through without questions.

As long as you have all your tickets, passport, visa and documentation in order, you might get some questions - but treat it as part of the process and don't worry about it. It happens in almost every country - I once had a long questioning in your country (arrived in Orlando) about what I'd been doing in Colombia - which I'd just visited.

Will it happen next time? Perhaps. Sometimes it just depends - they may have had a briefing that week about a suspected risk from country X, and those X citizens may get questioned more. Mostly it's just a short part of the process, before you enter the country and get to enjoy your visit. :)

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    That's true, since to be fair, I was only questioned for no more than 5 minutes. It's just that as an American, it felt weird to be questioned and waiting in a room to answer questions about my trip at home(in the USA). I'd expect to be questioned elsewhere, not when arriving home. – AmericanCitizen Sep 28 '14 at 2:41
  • @AmericanCitizen then too, they need to check certain countries - if you have family, that's a valid answer, and you'd get waived through. It's when certain uncertainties in this world are causing people to travel for other reasons, that they just need to clarify. Indeed, Australia is considering banning travel to certain areas of the world now, or at least requiring notification that you're going there (eg to visit family) – Mark Mayo Sep 28 '14 at 9:57
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    @MarkMayo The original question was not very clear, but it appears that the OP was asking why they got questioned on returning to the US, not when arriving in Pakistan. – jpatokal Sep 28 '14 at 11:14
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    "However, it's simply up to the official on the day to decide if they're happy to let you in" From comments it appears the OP is asking about returning to the U.S. A U.S. citizen cannot be denied entry to the U.S. under any circumstances. – user102008 Sep 29 '14 at 8:33
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    @MarkMayo: Nope, that's only for aliens. There is no "inadmissibility" for U.S. citizens. – user102008 Oct 2 '14 at 9:54

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