Customs and Border Protection’s Presence Abroad

The Immigration Advisory Program (IAP)

One of the most significant international programs managed by CBP is the IAP. CBP describes the program as part of CBP’s layered security strategy that is designed to increase the safety of commercial air travel to the United States by minimizing the number of incorrectly documented travelers entering the United States. Most importantly, this program also prevents high-risk travelers such as terrorist and known criminals from boarding commercial flights to the United States.

The Immigration Advisory Program is administered by CBP through the cooperation and agreement with foreign countries, which allow for the plain clothed IAP officers to be posted in foreign airports with the increasingly important goal of intercepting high-risk and improperly documented travelers seeking to board flights to the United States. Currently IAP officers are based in airports in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Netherlands, Qatar and Spain.

Working in conjunction with the CBP National Targeting Center, IAP officers make “no board” recommendations to carriers and host governments regarding passengers that are considered high-risk and/or improperly documented. In addition, IAP officers monitor airport security, interview passengers who are bound for the U.S., and observe and assist airport authorities with document assessment and examination, traveler security assessment, security checks and baggage searches.

IAP officers also train air carriers, airport and airline security staff, as well as host-country authorities, in the most up-to-date security and document assessment techniques and IAP procedures. Though IAP officers do not have the authority to prohibit travel from foreign countries, airlines must typically comply with an officers “no board” recommendation to avoid sanctions, fines and/or arrival landing denials. In Fiscal Year 2012, IAP officers recommended that more than 3,663 passengers not board flights bound for the United States.

The Container Security Initiative (CSI)

CSI is another part of CBP’s layered security strategy and is similar to IAP. CSI was established in the wake of September 11th in order to combat threats of terrorism to the United States. Its borders and international trade. CBP officers working within the CSI unit are responsible for examining and targeting high-risk maritime cargo and containers at foreign seaports before the cargo ships are loaded and U.S. bound.

CBP officers who work with foreign government customs authorities and the CBP National Targeting Center utilize available intelligence, including manifest data for all cargo containers destined for the United States and automated advance targeting information, to identify cargo and shipping containers that could pose a terrorist-related threat. Officers pre-screen these containers and use high-tech detection methods to scan the containers to determine if the containers indeed pose a security risk. Currently, CBP subjects over 80 percent of all seaport cargo and containers bound for the US to CSI pre-screening.

CSI currently operates in over 50 seaports worldwide, including major ports in Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Japan, UAE, Oman, Pakistan, Israel, China, Egypt and South America.

CBP Attachés

CBP officers are posted within U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad as attachés, in addition to CBP’s IAP and CSI programs. These attachés are responsible for not only counter-terrorism/border security but all functions relating to international trade with the U.S. and travel.

CBP attachés are in charge of providing expert advice and support in all international matters and activities of CBP, including Foreign Service nationals and interagency groups, CBP officials and foreign governments and oversight to CBP international programs such as the IAP and CSI. CBP attachés work with foreign governments and organizations to increase U.S. border protection, security and trade as well as to improve international cooperation between the United States and the world.

CBP attachés liaise with IAP and CSI officers to ensure the continuous flow of legitimate cargo and passengers to the United States, as part of overseeing the IAP and CSI programs. For example, CBP attachés work in conjunction with IAP officers to facilitate the legitimate travel to the United States of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. This reduces the caseloads of consular staff and DHS officers who would otherwise be required to assist these travelers and this increases the likelihood that affected travelers will be able to travel back to the U.S. without issues.

Customs and Border Protection attachés are currently stated within U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

For additional information on Customs and Border Protection and their programs abroad, please visit

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