I'm a legal visa holder but would like to know the process if, for some reason, I was refused entry to the US.

  1. Do I need to go back to my home country, the country of my citizenship, or can I go to another country where I will be allowed with my passport?
  2. Do I need to fly back immediately, or would I be able to fly the next day? Is there some kind of a detention cell? If I just flew for 24 hours, e.g., India to USA or China to USA, I wouldn't want to travel immediately for another 24 hours.

I'm asking about being den entry and not deportation. I have not committed a crime or overstayed my visa.

If I'm ever in this situation, do I even have the rights to rest a little bit, get some sleep and then take the flight? Can I just fly somewhere in the Caribbean a few hours away, instead of flying across the world? Is forcing me to do the latter a human rights violation?

  • 1
    If you are being denied entry, it will be the responsibility of the airline that landed you to actually remove you, and they will send you somewhere you are guaranteed to be granted entry based on your passport. You typically don't get a choice.
    – user29788
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:27
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    If you are denied for any reason, you will be put on the first available flight back to where you originated or to your home country on the same airline. While Moo may be technically correct, it's highly unlikely the airline would take the risk of sending you somewhere other than you home country. You can ask CBP to be detained an extra day, but 99.99%, they will refuse. People are turned back immediately all the time, so there is no 'human rights' issue.
    – DTRT
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:33
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    Use a preclearance facility if you are worried about being refused at the border.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 10, 2017 at 9:54
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    What happens if you didn't arrive from your home Country, but from somehwere where you're a foreign resident? I.e. if I, being Swedish but resident in Switzerland, were to fly from Zurich to New York and get refused, would they agree to fly me back to Switzerland?
    – Crazydre
    Aug 10, 2017 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


If you are denied entry in the US, two things can happen:

  1. The officer offers to allow you to voluntarily withdraw your application for admission, and allows you to voluntarily depart on your own quickly, on your own arrangement, and you accept and do depart according to their terms, or
  2. The officer puts you into expedited removal proceedings, and you are ordered removed. How you are flown out would presumably be arranged by the US government. A removal upon arrival triggers a 5-year ban under INA 212(a)(9)(A)(i) for the first time (or 20-year ban for a second time).

Note that the officer doesn't have to offer you to voluntarily depart; it's up to the officer, i.e. they can put you into removal proceedings (thus causing you a ban) even if you offer to depart on your own, or even if they at first offer to let you depart on your own, if you take too long to arrange your transportation, they can change their mind and put you into removal anyway. But they usually do offer you the option of voluntary departure unless your past immigration violations were particularly egregious.

(Note that the above only applies to ports of entry in the US. If you are denied entry at a US pre-clearance facility, e.g. if you are flying from Canada, Ireland, or Abu Dhabi, removal is not an option as you are not in the US. In that case, you would simply be left at the foreign airport and not be able to take your flight to the US.)

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