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Transit though Abu Dhabi airport is becoming a U-Turn for Student Visas

Abu Dhabi airport is one of the few airports outside of the U.S. that contains a CBP facility that allows travelers to clear customs and immigration while at Abu Dhabi and avoiding the need for further checks upon arrival in the U.S. Although this is convenient for passengers arriving to the U.S. to have cleared customs abroad, our attorneys have received reports regarding issues with people traveling to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa. These students were eventually asked to withdraw their application for admission. The reports we have received are as follows:

  • One student reported that she was asked to withdraw her visa after being questioned on her OPT offer letter. The CBP Officer believed that it was the student who drafted the offer letter, not the employer, and found that a reason to deny entry. 
  • Another student reported that she had two offer letters from her employer – one that stated the job was paid, and another that stated the job was unpaid – and the CBP Officer considered the discrepancy as a reason to deny entry. 
  • Other students have reported that when receiving their Form I-275, Withdrawal of Application for Admission/Consular Notification, the sworn statement on Form I-877 is not attached or provided.

Because of the increase in issues at the pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi Airport, especially for F-1 students, it is advised to exercise extreme caution when flying through Abu Dhabi Airport, or attempt to avoid that airport altogether when flying to the U.S. on a valid visa.

If you have any questions regarding the possible risks associated when traveling with a valid nonimmigrant visa, speak to a qualified immigration attorney.

By: Rahul Reddy


Rahul is the founding partner of Reddy Neumann Brown PC His practice covers employment-based immigration, in which he represents corporate clients in far-ranging industries.