Nigeria-based techie Celestine Omin arrived at the JFK airport on Feb 26 where an unusual situation was put up front by the officials of the US Customs and Border Protection officers. A customs official asked him to give a proof that he was a software engineer.
As detailed by Linkedin’s Caroline Fairchild in her post, the officials made Omin wait for around 20 minutes and then asked a few questions. After that, he was taken into a small room where he waited for an hour before another official came and started asking more questions.
According to Omin, the official questioned about his profession in an accusatory tone. “Your visa says you are a software engineer. Is that correct?”
I was just asked to balance a Binary Search Tree by JFK's airport immigration. Welcome to America.
— Cee (@cyberomin) February 26, 2017
The question was followed by a couple of other questions which Omin was supposed to answer on a piece of paper.
“Write a function to check if a Binary Search Tree is balanced.”
“What is an abstract class, and why do you need it?”
Omin told Fairchild that the questions appeared to him as asked by someone who doesn’t have a technical background and might’ve Googled something like, “Questions to ask a software engineer.”
After flying 24-hours on an economy seat, Omin was too tired to understand what was going on. Still, he answered the questions after taking a few minutes. He wasn’t aware of the reason he was being subjected to such situation.
After waiting for some more time, the official said, “Look, I am going to let you go, but you don’t look convincing to me.” Omin left the place without saying anything. But it was like he had failed the test even though his answers were technically correct. Later, he came to know that the official talked with Andela’s co-founder to confirm information about Omin.
A spokesperson of the US Customs and Border Protection didn’t comment directly on Omin’s case but said that the agency doesn’t take any written tests to verify a person’s purpose of travel. However, a person entering the country “must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility”.
Omin said his travel is legal and he doesn’t think about what would happen when he returns to the airport.
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