What's behind the Immigration counter?
April 23, 2016 11:21 PM   Subscribe

What goes on on the other side of the Immigration counter when you enter or leave a country?

As a frequent international traveler I spend a lot of time at Immigration counters, and I've long been curious about what the officers are doing back there. Sometimes I get a glimpse of their computer screen - they scan the passport, some details come up, as well as photos of three different people (? Why?).

What are they seeing on their screen? Sometimes they take longer than usual - what are they trying to look up and what would trigger a delay? Is there a difference between Immigration at point of departure and at point of arrival? What's happening back there?
posted by divabat to Law & Government (2 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Once when departing Frankfurt for the States there was an immigration official with a laptop at the flight checkin line. He asked the typical questions about my trip: where I went, where did I stay, how long in each place, and so on.

After crossing past the guy I looked over his shoulder at the laptop while he was questioning my wife. The screen had a list of hotels we had stayed at over the last 5-10 years. Interestingly, some of them were not locations in the EU but I did notice that a good number of them were hotels I had booked online or through your companies.

Long story short I'm guessing they are looking to understand your travel patterns and look for anything that might be flagged as suspicious. At the same time you are also being checked for outstanding warrants, visa overstays, etc. They are also sharing data with other friendly and allied countries.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:54 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

From (limited) experience dealing with the Immigration IT systems in a smallish country the officers are typically using an application to look at your travel history, any matches with watch lists that pop, and (depending on if biometrics being captured) waiting waiting waiting for matches or a confirmation to come up. Depending on how the bandwidth back to the main immigration systems there can be some thumb twiddling.

Also probably lots of interesting online materials if you go looking. Some of the manufacturers of the software have various white papers / product sheets etc you can look at to see how these systems work.

I bet if you google hard enough you'd find a user manual for a specific country....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:35 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older 90's middle eastern electronica album compilation...   |   Communication is too hard. I almost want to stop... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.