A couple of friends and I on F-1 Student Visas decided to visit San Diego Border Field State Park. We looked up the park and the requirements on the website say:

The US side is supervised by Border Patrol agents and visitors should be prepared to show ID (driver's license is sufficient).

It also says on the FAQ:

Permanent residents, people with tourist, student, or work visas can go to the park without risk.

At the entrance we met Border Patrol who asked us to show ID, all of us had CA Driver's licenses which we showed to them. They asked us our nationality and we told them that (Non US). At that point they told us we needed to have all our documents (I-20, Passport, Visas) on us at all times and just the driving license would not do. Thankfully all of us had scans of all these documents on our phones. They noted our passport numbers and told us to wait while one of them went to his car to check them out. He came back a few minutes later and told us that we would need to go the border patrol station to have our documents checked. He said it was a 'deportable crime' for us not to have our documets on us at all times.

They took us to the border patrol station in their car (after putting our belongings in a bag) and made us have our finger prints taken after which they checked out document numbers and status. After this (about 40 minutes) they dropped us back at the park without any charges or anything and told us to have our documents with us at all times. We were treated courteously and the engaged in friendly chatter and told us we didn't need to worry if we were in the US legally.

We asked one of the officers if this incident would show up on our immigration record and he said that it would but we don't need to worry as it would just show up that we were detained and released after all our documents checked out.

My question: Will this detainment be shown to the immigration officer at the airport every time we enter the United States. Will we be questioned about this?

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    Border patrol officers are wrong to say that you can be deported for failing to have your documents. As far as I'm aware, there is controversy about whether the relevant section of the law applies to nonimmigrants, but even if it does, the penalty is up to $100 and/or 30 days imprisonment, which makes it a misdemeanor for which you cannot be deported.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 0:45
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    Thanks, we were not charged with misdemeanor, so what exactly is going to show up on the immigration record? Will it be cause for questioning?
    – anon
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 3:32
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    Anything is cause for questioning. You may be asked about it, but it shouldn't go any farther than your telling the story in response to the question. If asked, just tell the truth. As outlined in Sheik Paul's answer, the incident does not make you inadmissible.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 4:18

2 Answers 2


First off the border patrol guy is ignorant of the laws or lying as many do.

Not carrying your immigration papers is NOT a deportable offense. Per INA: ACT 264, Sec. 264. or 8 U.S.C. 1304,

Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

Now will the incident show up on your immigration records? Yes if they made those notes on there. It is nothing to worry about though. You may or may not be questioned about it, however once again It is nothing to worry about. Finally no it is nothing to worry about when getting OPT or an H1B.

Like I stated earlier, that potential misdemeanor is neither a deportable offense nor a crime which makes you inadmissible when you next go out of the USA and apply for a new visa or are coming back in with a valid visa.

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    Could downvoters explain whats wrong with this answer?
    – anon
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 23:57
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    Most likely they don't like the or lying as many of them do :) part or because it's somewhat got to do with student's visas which are considered long term and thus off topic for this site. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 0:00
  • So does this "any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card" mean, that i have to carry my passport all the time, or would in this case my german ID card be sufficient (i will visit New York for 10 days as a tourist, and am wondering if i could leave my passport in the room safe or not).
    – dunni
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 15:58
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    @dunni your German ID doesn't meet the legal requirement. It is not a certificate of alien registration; it is proof of your foreign nationality. The chance of your falling afoul of the law in NYC is virtually nil. The chance of losing your passport is far greater. Nobody is ever prosecuted for this except as part of a prosecution for more serious offences. If you're inclined to worry about these sorts of things nonetheless, print a copy of your I-94 record and carry that with you instead. i94.cbp.dhs.gov.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 20:14
  • @SheikPaul, in order to get the misdemeanor conviction, the OP have to be at least given summons to court, taken to court and be found guilty. So, while correct, the explanation is irrelevant to the OPs question
    – mzu
    Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 22:16

In order to make you criminally inadmissible per 8 U.S. Code § 1182, you have to be charged with some qualified crime. In order to get charged with something serious, you have to be arraigned, go through court etc.

Did this stop become a part of your immigration record? File a FOIA/PA request to the USCIS and to the CBP. Then you will know exactly what has been recorded about this encounter (possibly, nothing) and you will have the opportunity to correct the record.

I recollect an anecdote told by one immigration practitioner, when a very wealthy Mexican got almost denied his green card. The officer creating his record for visa application punched in an incorrect code as the reason for having his fingerprints taken. The officer used the code for "deportation" instead for the one for "visa application". So file the request and check the record.

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    "Arranged"? Perhaps arraigned?
    – Calchas
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 0:16

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