All individuals, unless exempt by diplomatic status, are subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers when seeking to enter the United States from out of the country. The scope of inspection includes persons, baggage and merchandise. CBP searches may be conducted with or without suspicion of an unlawful activity.
CBP officers are responsible for determining whether or not an individual has the right or permission to enter or return to the United States and are authorized to stop, detain, and search any person or item for this purpose. It is unlawful for these searches or detentions to be based solely on race, national origin, religion, sex, or ethnicity. However, CBP may stop travelers based on a variety of reasons, including their citizenship, their travel itinerary or because they have been selected for a random search.
If you are detained and have concerns about how you are being treated, you may request to speak with a CBP supervisor. U.S. citizens who are detained for extended questioning have the right to have an attorney present. Non-U.S. citizens generally do not have the right to an attorney prior to admission into the United States.
Electronic devices are considered to be "virtual briefcases" and are subject to search. Effective January 2018, CBP searches of electronic devices may be conducted on inbound and outbound border searches. CBP officers may ask for passwords to search your devices. Travelers who refuse to give up passwords may be detained for longer periods and have their bags searched more intrusively. While U.S. citizens cannot be detained indefinitely for refusing to provide a password, their device may be seized and kept for an extended period. If a device is seized, CBP is required to issue a Custody Receipt to the owner of the device (CBP Form 6051D). Foreign visitors who refuse to provide passwords may be turned away at the border, and green card holders could be questioned and challenged about their continued legal status.