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Security Expert Turned Away for Wrong Visa

When a country turns away a visitor for carrying the wrong visa it doesn't normally make the news. This isn't the case with a recent incident where there has been a lot of coverage across technical news sites about the United States turning away one of the key presenters at the current Black Hat security conference being held in Las Vegas.

Halvar Flake, a German native, was turned away at US customs for carrying the wrong visa for entry to the US based on his plan to present at the conference. While the reason for the deportation was that Halvar was not carrying an H1B visa that is required for non-Americans working within the United States, he had been able to attend several of the conferences previously without a problem (probably because the visa wasn't closely looked at on those occasions).

With Halvar originally travelling under the visa waiver program, US authorities determined that he was effectively acting as an employee of Black Hat for the duration of the conference and thus required the H1B. Without the correct visa in his possession, Halvar was turned back to Europe. It is reported that if he had been engaged to present at Black Hat through a company in Europe, rather than on an individual basis, then he probably wouldn't have been turned away.

Even though national customs agents routinely stop people from entering countries under the wrong visa, this particular incident has grabbed the attention of satirists - who have already created a site endorsing the jailing of Halvar.

It isn't the first time that security experts travelling to the United States have found problems entering (or leaving) the country, with one of the most notable previous cases involving Dmitry Sklyarov - who was arrested prior to leaving the United States after releasing research aimed at allowing the bypass of Adobe's eBook DRM.

1 August 2007

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