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FAQ

How quickly would the government shutdown end if CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and TSA officers refused to work?
Well, if history is any indication ..There was a time when the Air Traffic Controllers said, “Let’s just don’t go to work. They can’t fire all of us!”Are you old enough to know the end of that story?Over 10K of them got fired. The airports had to close for one day, but the next day, supervisors and other people showed up under the contingency plan….and a lot of people who had been waiting for Air Traffic Controller jobs got one.Oh.. another thing that I didn’t know and just learned today…..Those Air Traffic Controllers who refused to come to work? They were banned for life and cannot be re-hired.So, I don’t see how that would have any influence on the length of the government shut down. it does not end because people don’t come to work. it ends when a budget gets passed. It started when a budget did not get passed by a certain date and it ends when a budget DOES get passed.
What happens to all of the paper forms you fill out for immigration and customs?
Years ago I worked at document management company.  There is cool software that can automate aspects of hand-written forms.  We had an airport as a customer - they scanned plenty and (as I said before) this was several years ago...On your airport customs forms, the "boxes" that you 'need' to write on - are basically invisible to the scanner - but are used because then us humans will tend to write neater and clearer which make sit easier to recognize with a computer.  Any characters with less than X% accuracy based on a recognition engine are flagged and shown as an image zoomed into the particular character so a human operator can then say "that is an "A".   This way, you can rapidly go through most forms and output it to say - an SQL database, complete with link to original image of the form you filled in.If you see "black boxes" at three corners of the document - it is likely set up for scanning (they help to identify and orient the page digitally).  If there is a unique barcode on the document somewhere I would theorize there is an even higher likelihood of it being scanned - the document is of enough value to be printed individually which costs more, which means it is likely going to be used on the capture side.   (I've noticed in the past in Bahamas and some other Caribbean islands they use these sorts of capture mechanisms, but they have far fewer people entering than the US does everyday)The real answer is: it depends.  Depending on each country and its policies and procedures.  Generally I would be surprised if they scanned and held onto the paper.   In the US, they proably file those for a set period of time then destroy them, perhaps mining them for some data about travellers. In the end,  I suspect the "paper-to-data capture" likelihood of customs forms ranges somewhere on a spectrum like this:Third world Customs Guy has paper to show he did his job, paper gets thrown out at end of shift. ------  We keep all the papers! everything is scanned as you pass by customs and unique barcodes identify which flight/gate/area the form was handed out at, so we co-ordinate with cameras in the airport and have captured your image.  We also know exactly how much vodka you brought into the country. :)
What are the things that a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) do to asses the intention of a visa holder?
They can do many things, including take your laptop and review everything on it. (Disclaimer: used to work for CBP, not speaking for them, this isn't comprehensive.)Opinion of the officers: They take their job very seriously and do not have time to waste nor are they interested in hassling people.Advice: Be extremely respectful and have a backup copy of all your data. Consider registering your equipment in advance. Visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection for information before you travel, not when you are in the airport freaking out.
What steps would a US citizen need to take in order to clear their own import goods shipment through Customs and Border Protection (CBP) without using the services of a Customs Broker?
First, you have to be the OWNER of the goods, not importing on behalf of someone else. You have to have invoices that show the complete price payed or payable for the goods at the port of export from the exporting country. If the goods are subject to any other agency requirements (Fish & Wildlife, Drug Enforcement Agency, Food & Drug, etc.) you have to have the necessary documentation to prove that you’ve met all the requirements of that agency. If it is subject to the CITIES Treaties (endangered species) you have to have the necessary license/permits from the country of origin.Then you will have to post a bond for the duties and other fees due, either in cash or by a surety bond from a CBP recognized surety company. You will then need to claim the goods once they have been made available to CBP officers for inspection and haul them away when they are released by CBP.These are the top level requirements. There could be others, depending on the nature of the goods and their country of origin.Ron(Retired U.S. Customs Service, Licensed Customs broker.)
When a person enters the US, he/she has to submit a customs form. What happens to the form after it is given to the US Customs and Border Protection agents?
They have already compiled the information they need out of that form when you show it to the immigration officer.If the USCIS does not share that info with the CBP, then the CBP probably reenters that info and perhaps scans it as well. After that, the piece of paper is useless and most likely recycled.
How do I get access to public bill of lading databases from Customs and Border Protection?
As stated in the previous answer, this information is not available to the general public.  Here is what CBP says:How can I get information about who is importing or exporting various commodities?Importer names on entry documents are confidential and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not disclose names of importers to the public. However, there are a number of private sector media services that are permitted by the privacy statute, 19 CFR 103.31 (d), to collect manifest data at every port of entry. Reporters collect and publish names of importers from vessel manifest data unless an importer/shipper requests confidentiality.Please be aware that there is a subscription charge for this information.Among the companies that prthis information service are the Journal of Commerce's PIERS database and Ealing Market Data Engineering Co.