TOLL-FREE 604-684-4211

US Immigration: Border Seizures

When you are travelling into the United States, it is important to be aware of laws and regulations that may apply to the items you carry with you. U.S. immigration measures can be strict, and goods or money that you fail to declare may be fined or seized when you attempt to enter the country. Although consequences vary depending on the circumstances, it is important to know that legal recourse is available to you when your goods are seized or fined.

Our U.S. immigration lawyers at Border Solutions Law Group can help you determine whether your goods that have been fined or seized at the border are eligible for reclamation. Because our team is dual-licensed in Canada and the United States, we can help you navigate your border seizure no matter where you are from. Schedule a consultation with us today for legal advice on your situation.

What is a Border Seizure?

Border seizures occur when money or goods are confiscated from an individual by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) at a port of entry. Inspections are carried out by USCBP agents to monitor for any import regulations being violated, or for illegally smuggled money or goods.

Border agents will normally require proof that any items of interest you possess were lawfully obtained. To prove the origin of an item, you may present bills, proof of purchase, or other types of receipts original to you.

 How Do Border Seizures Happen?

There are a variety of reasons why goods or money may be seized at the border by a USCBP immigration officer. Seizures can occur for:

  • Failing to declare certain currency or valuables
  • Failing to declare monetary instruments exceeding $10,000
  • Possessing goods or products that are illegal for possession or sale in the United States
  • And more

If you are stopped at the U.S. border due to the possession of goods or money that a border agent believes to be illegal, there are multiple possible outcomes. In some cases, agents will seize the merchandise in question, and you will not receive it back. In other cases, you will be fined for possessing certain items while crossing the border, but they may be returned to you.

Because USCBP functions as a branch of the federal government, border seizure consequences can be serious. If you are caught smuggling illegal goods across the border or have engaged in egregious behaviour, you can be criminally charged by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Although this is a possibility, it is unlikely that an individual will be criminally charged for forgetting to declare basic items during their border crossing. Consequences for the possession of prohibited items at a border crossing will vary on a case-by-case basis. 

What Kind of Legal Recourse is Available?

If your goods are seized or you are fined at the border, there may be steps you can take to reverse the penalty. After an official seizure or fine is issued, you have 90 days to appeal the decision. This will involve the submission of a formal petition that requests the return of an item based on the particular circumstances of the case.

If you believe that you have a legal claim to money or goods that have been seized, you should contact an immigration lawyer immediately. An immigration lawyer can assist in the filing and submission of your formal petition or appeal. They may also help reduce or eliminate any fines you have been charged with. Because there is an administrative system through USCBP that must be navigated when it comes to appeals, it can be helpful to work with a lawyer who has experience in U.S. immigration law. This may be especially useful if you receive a decision you are not happy with and you wish to take your appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

 Contact Our Dual-Licensed U.S. Immigration Lawyers Today

When your goods or money are seized at the border, it can be confusing and stressful. If you believe that your goods should be returned to you, there are actions you can take to fight a USCBP decision. With the assistance of our experienced U.S. immigration lawyers at Border Solutions Law Group, understanding why a border seizure happened and appealing any penalties can become more straightforward. Contact us today if any items you own have been seized at the U.S. border and you need advice about what is possible for you.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your immigration law matter, please consult with an immigration lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.