What is EWI?

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What is EWI?

Hello everyone. This is Erin Cobb welcoming you back to Kriezelman Burton & Associates’ web series dedicated to explaining common terminology associated with immigration. Today, we are talking about entering without inspection, or EWI. When you meet with an immigration lawyer or talk to an immigration official, often that person will ask you a critical question, “How did you enter the country?” Frequently, people just answer “Illegally.” Unfortunately, that is not a good enough answer as it does not give us enough information to assist you. While illegal is a very common term, it does not have a special meaning under immigration law. 

To help you understand better, I’d like to provide you with a few examples. 

  • A person arrives at O’Hare airport in Chicago but uses a passport that they bought from a snakehead or a smuggler. This person is trying to enter the United States illegally.
  • A person arrives at JFK in New York City but is not honest about their intent when they arrive, such as they have a student visa, but they really came here because they want to work. They are trying to enter illegally.
  • A person crosses over the southern border, but through the desert, across the river, or another area that is not an official border checkpoint, to avoid immigration officers. This is also illegal.
  • A person comes to a border checkpoint at El Paso and presents a green card, but it’s not their green card. This is illegal.

As you can see, the phrase, “I entered illegally” doesn’t give immigration lawyers or officials much information, as you could have entered the county in several ways. We need the details to assess your situation and provide the best guidance accurately. 

Let’s look at the four examples again. One of them is significantly different than the others. Can you spot it? In three of these examples, a person presented themselves to an immigration officer or official. In one example, they tried to avoid immigration officials.

In the examples where the person encountered immigration officials at either a land border or airport is called an inspection. A person presents themselves to a border patrol officer, also known as a CBP officer, and that officer is inspecting them. Officers inspect official documents, traveler intentions, and sometimes travel and criminal history. The person who tried to avoid the officer is entering with inspection (EWI). 

It’s important to note that, if you encounter an officer after officially crossing the border, your EWI status does not change. For example, if you were to cross a river into the U.S. without going through an official checkpoint and get encountered 20 miles into the country by a CBP officer, it is still considered entry without inspection. Even if you are trying to cross the river and get encountered halfway through your cross, it is still considered attempted entry without inspection. The difference between entry with and without inspection is the voluntary presentation to a border official at an official, designated checkpoint.

Why does entry without inspection matter? We’re going to talk about that in our next blog post, which is about consular processing. Be sure to check back soon for more information and an explanation of immigration law. If you are someone you know requires professional legal guidance or assistance in their immigration case, please contact the offices of Kriezelman Burton & Associates. Call or fill out our online contact form to schedule your consultation today.