U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has informed stakeholders of a new policy at Newark's Liberty International Airport affecting returning H-1B, L-1, and other employment-based visa holders. CBP is now conducting random checks to determine admissibility of those visa holders. Based on that initial screening, the primary CBP officer may decide to send the visa holder to secondary immigration inspection. The visa holder could then face a choice of withdrawing his or her application for admission or being subjected to expedited removal by the U.S. government.

For H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrants who must travel outside the U.S., we recommend advance preparation for their return and inspection by CBP, including:

  • a complete review of the sponsoring employer's "petition" previously filed on the employee's behalf
  • familiarity with the petition's contents, including the stated position title, job duties, work location, and compensation
  • carrying evidence to support admissibility including (but not necessarily limited to) a recent employment confirmation letter from the petitioner/employer and a recent earnings statement

Additionally, for returning permanent residents (green card holders), the Newark port of entry has adopted a policy that a permanent resident with a post-1998 conviction may be detained. Exceptions to the detention policy may be made for humanitarian reasons. The permanent resident will be released after 24 hours if CBP cannot obtain a copy of the conviction documents. Permanent residents with post-1998 convictions should seek advice of legal counsel before traveling abroad and returning through any U.S. port of entry.