What is obvious is that the US has the right to prevent foreigners from entering the country. But the situation this morning is that it is not clear what would happen after the immigrant or visitor lands in the US.

In such case if the immigrant or visitor is willing to take full responsibility after he reaches and give it a try, why do the foreign government and airline companies have the right to stop him?

In my view, the immigrant has the clearance to leave his country, then it should only be the business of the agency in the US deciding whether let him in or not.

  • To which situation(s) are you referring specifically? You seem to agree with Trump's inbound immigrants ban. Are you talking about immigrants who have denied entry returning to their home countries?
    – user2565
    Jan 29, 2017 at 16:18
  • @barrycarter No, I'm talking about the situation that people who hold legit US visa were not allowed to get on the plane to US. This is puzzling to me since why would anyone bother to do the job for the US border control? Since whether or not these immigrants is allowed to enter US will be found out as soon as the plane lands. I don't see the point that foreign government or airline companies stop these people getting on the plane.
    – Joe Li
    Jan 29, 2017 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


Because the law1 says that companies must check the visa required by the passenger at the destination country. If they do not do that, they may get fined2.

This is not even a law particular of the USA, but based in the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Convention_on_International_Civil_Aviation), that specifies:

Article 13: (Entry and Clearance Regulations) A state's laws and regulations regarding the admission and departure of passengers, crew or cargo from aircraft shall be complied with on arrival, upon departure and whilst within the territory of that state.

Also, in the best practices:

5.9 The aircraft operator shall be responsible for the cost of custody and care of an improperly documented person from the moment that person is found inadmissible and returned to the aircraft operator for removal from the State.


5.14 Contracting States shall not fine aircraft operators in the event that arriving and in-transit persons are found to be improperly documented where aircraft operators can demonstrate that they have taken adequate precautions to ensure that these persons had complied with the documentary requirements for entry into the receiving State.

This kind of question appears regularly at Travel Stackexchange, with people complaining that they have been denied boarding (not only towards USA, but any other country3) due to visa issues.

1BTW, this had nothing to do with 9/11. It works this way in all the world, and AFAIK it did work that way well before 9/11.

IIRC, post-9/11, there were additional requirements so that any passenger boarding a plane that went over the USA had to fill a form before the flight to get clearance, even if he had visa or if the destination of the flight was not the USA.

2And, in top of that, the airline will have to provide transportation back to country of origin to the rejected passenger (although they may try to sue him for the value of the travel).

3Check this example where the destination was Brazil. Or this one with a Vietnam destination. Or this one with a Schengen one.

If you got curious, search the site for "boarding denied visa" and you will get lots of questions and answers.

  • As I understand it, the law in the UK imposes very similar requirements on airlines. And enforcement is relatively easy since airlines depend on public authorities etc for their livelihood in the form of landing rights. You can be sure that those contractual terms are specific about the airline not aiding or neglecting to ensure that border controls are upheld. And the state will be in a position to enforce them, with remedies in extreme cases of the power to impound an aircraft.
    – WS2
    Jan 30, 2017 at 11:19
  • @WS2 I guess the idea is to have the same rules globally. Otherwise, airlines could find themselves between a rock and a hard place if the regulation of different countries is incompatible. For example, in an UK-USA route, it could be that the USA would fine the company if it allows boarding people without the proper documents, while the UK would fine the company for breach of contract if they do not allow those same passengers to board.
    – SJuan76
    Feb 6, 2017 at 10:06
  • I have never heard of an airline being prosecuted for failing to allow passengers to join a flight. My guess is that provided an airline is not discriminating on the basis of race, gender, orientation, etc that it is free to carry or not carry whoever it wants. In any event it would always be open to any passenger refused carriage to take whatever legal action was available to them against the airline, without the authorities needing to become involved. They would always have a defence if they could show that the passengers in question would be refused entry at the port of destination.
    – WS2
    Feb 6, 2017 at 17:37

Why do the foreign government and airline companies have the right to stop him?

Foreign governments can do whatever they want on their soil.

The airline companies flying into the US are subject to certain reporting requirements established under a certain US law written on a bipartisan basis and passed so after 9/11.

  • 1
    Yeah ok. But let's say it's a western country like US. If a US citizen (not under any kind of restraining order) trying to exit US border, does he has the obligation to truthfully report the final destination and purpose to his own government agency?
    – Joe Li
    Jan 29, 2017 at 14:29
  • > does he has the obligation to truthfully report the final destination and purpose to his own government agency? not on the way out. but on the way in, yes. but that's not related to this question being asked here.
    – dannyf
    Jan 29, 2017 at 14:33
  • It is related. Not on the way out implies the the government really don't care where and why you are going. If Iran do the same thing to US, then US official won't stop US citizens getting on the plane to Iran.
    – Joe Li
    Jan 29, 2017 at 14:43
  • > Not on the way out implies the the government really don't care where and why you are going. just because the government doesn't ask, doesn't mean it doesn't care. the government doesn't ask if you bought radioactive fish from your neighbor last week doesn't mean it doesn't care about the existence, circulation and consumption of radioactive fish. You are drawing too much from the government's action or inaction.
    – dannyf
    Jan 29, 2017 at 14:46
  • In your example it's impossible for the government to ask since they simply don't know. Do you really think the government want to know something and choose not to when facing the both options with few costs?
    – Joe Li
    Jan 29, 2017 at 15:20

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