Defending People's Rights and Freedoms

When is a Person Admitted Into The United States Through Inspection

What is the meaning of enter through inspection? This is a question that confronts every foreigner who seeks adjustment of status in the United States. It is a critical step in the process of adjustment of status. Surprisingly, it is a question that aliens answer incorrectly to their own detriment.

Many aliens and their U.S. citizen sponsors believe that to enter through inspection one must receive a stamp in his or her passport, questioned by an immigration officer, enter with a valid visa and in a particular status. This perception is wrong.

In Matter of Graciela Quilantan, the Board of Immigration Appeals made it crystal clear that “for purposes of establishing eligibility for adjustment of status under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8. U.S.C section 1255(a) (2006), an alien seeking to show that he or she has been “admitted” to the United States… need only prove procedural regularity in his or her entry, which does not require the alien to be questioned by immigration authorities or be admitted in a particular status.”

In Matter of Graciella Quilantan, the Respondent was a Mexican national who was a passenger of a car driven by her United States citizen friend to the U.S. border where an immigration inspector asked the driver if he was an American but did NOT ask Quilantan who was seated in the back seat anything. Quilantan did NOT have a valid document to enter the United States and did NOT receive a stamp in her passport but the car in which she was a passenger was allowed into the U.S. The Board of Immigration Appeals found that she was admitted through inspection and was eligible to adjust her status after she married a U.S. citizen.

The term admitted does NOT require you to be lawfully entitled to enter the U.S. This is so because of the 1960 amendment to section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which replaced the earlier requirement that the alien be admitted as a bona fide nonimmigrant, i.e. that an alien’s admission be substantively lawful, with a requirement that the alien simply be inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States.

The Board of Immigration Appeals thus stated in Quilantan “as long as an alien’s entry into the United States as a nonimmigrant was procedurally proper” (i.e., the alien underwent an inspection by an immigration officer, who subsequently admitted the alien), the alien could seek adjustment of status under section 245(a).