Now more than ever, it is very important for you to understand the rights you have in the US as an international student.
While the content on this page should not be considered legal advice, it is intended to serve as guidance. For legal counsel, please reach out to the Center for International Student Engagement to connect you with an immigration attorney.
If you are stopped for questioning in the US:
You have the right to remain silent.
- You may remain silent and ask for a lawyer before answering questions.
You have the right to speak to a lawyer.
- Free and low-cost legal services can be found in the ACLU’s Know Your Rights card.
You have the right to refuse search.
- When entering the US, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) do have the right to search your belongings and electronic device.
- You are not required to consent to a search of you or your belongings once in the US, with the exception of your immigration documents, which you should carry with you at all times.
- An officer is permitted to pat you down in search of a weapon, and it is recommended to keep your hands visible to the officer at all times.
You have the right to refuse entry into your home.
- Unless you are presented with a valid search warrant (with judge’s signature), you may refuse entry.
- If a search warrant is presented, it is recommended that you have it slid under the door/held up to a window for you to read. It is also recommended that you photograph it for your documentation.
- Without a physical and valid search warrant, you may refuse entry by telling the officer that you do not consent to the entry into your home.
If you are stopped at the airport or border when entering the US:
- You may be asked about your citizenship, travel plans, and your belongings may be searched.
- Your smart phone or electronic devices can be confiscated, or even kept, by agents. Check out the ACLU’s article on electronic device searches for more information, and how to handle this type of request at the border. You may be denied entry to the US if you refuse to provide your electronic device’s password.
What resources can help me know what to do if I am stopped or if feel my rights have been violated?
- ACLU - "Know Your Rights" card can be printed and carried in your wallet (available in multiple languages)
- ACLU - "Know Your Rights" booklet
- Immigrant Defense Project - "Know Your Rights" with ICE
- ACLU - "What to do when encountering law enforcement at airports and other ports of entry into the US"
- AILA - "If ICE Visits a Home, Employer, or Public Space" handout