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Renowned security expert Halvar Flake denied entry to US for Black Hat.
The highly regarded Halvar Flake, one of the world's foremost security experts, on and off trainer of the United States departments of defence, energy, and homeland security, was denied entry to the US on the visa waiver programme for carrying 'trainings material' in his belongings.
Flake was on his way to the Black Hat briefings in Las Vegas where he was scheduled to speak.
'I was denied entry to the US for carrying trainings materials for the Blackhat trainings and intending to hold these trainings as a private citizen instead of as a company', writes Flake on his blog.
For the past seven years Flake has attended and presented at the Black Hat briefings and the introductory training sessions. For the past six years he has given two days of training in these sessions.
The greatest part of the attendees of these training sessions are US government employees working on US national security.
Flake was never stopped before.
It wasn't US immigration turned Flake around - it was US customs.
'My suitcase was searched and I was asked about the training materials', Flake narrates. 'After answering that these are for the trainings I am conducting, an immigration officer was called and I was put in an interview room. For the next 4 1/2 hours I was interviewed about who exactly I am, why I am coming to the US, what the nature of my contract with Black Hat is, and why my trainings class is not performed by an American citizen.'
'After 4 hours it became clear that a decision had been reached that I was to be denied entry to the US on the grounds that since I am a private person conducting the trainings for Black Hat I was essentially a Black Hat employee and would require an H1B visa to perform two days of trainings in the US.'
Flake began training for Black Hat long before he became a member of his own company. The agreement with Black Hat remains because Flake never got around to changing it. But that, claims Flake, could have been fixed on the spot.
Clarifications Not Solicited
'After the situation became clear (around the 4th hour of being interviewed) I offered that the agreement between Black Hat and my company could be set up more or less instantaneously - as a CEO I can sign the agreement on behalf of my company and Black Hat would've signed immediately too.'
'But apparently since I had just tried to enter as a 'normal citizen' instead as an 'employee of a company' I could now not change my application. They would have to put me on the next flight back to Germany.'
'Since I've been denied entry under the visa waiver programme I can now never use this programme again. Instead I need to wait until the American consulate opens and then apply for a business visa. I have not been able to determine how long this might take - estimates from customs officials ranged from four days to more than six weeks.'
By which time Caesars Palace will have closed down the conference.
'This sucks', concludes Flake.
Halvar Flake: ADD/XOR/ROL