German researcher denied access to U.S., Black Hat

Thomas Dullien (better known as "Halvar Flake") is denied entry to the U.S. because he was planning to attend the Black Hat conference as a private citizen and was thus subject to H-1B visa regulations.

German researcher Thomas Dullien (better known as "Halvar Flake") says he was denied entry to the United States on Sunday because he was planning to attend the Black Hat security conference as a private citizen, and thus subject to H-1B visa regulations.

As Halvar Flake, Dullien previously attended or presented at the Black Hat USA conference over the last seven years and never had a problem, he wrote in a personal blog about Sunday's incident.

Dullien was scheduled to teach a training course called "Analyzing Software for Security Vulnerabilities" on Monday and Tuesday. Billed as an "intense course encompassing binary analysis, reverse engineering and bug finding," the training materials in Dullien's luggage prompted U.S. Customs officials to detain him for four-and-a-half hours. No word yet on who will teach the two-day training session, which costs $2,400 to attend.

Dullien, who is also CEO of the German company Sabre Security, was told that since he was basically an employee of Black Hat, under contract to teach a training session, he would need a H-1B visa. He offered to change his application to show that instead he was representing a security company at the Black Hat conference. Unfortunately, since Dullien applied for and was turned down under the visa waiver program, he said in his blog, he would now have to apply for a business visa, a process which could take several days or weeks. It's ironic since he's previously given trainings and lectures in the U.S. to various branches of the U.S. government.

Dullien concludes his blog stating: "All this seems pretty crazy to me. From the point that 2 days of trainings constitute work that requires an H-1B visa, via the issue that everything could've been avoided if I had been allowed to set up the agreement with Black Hat immediately, to the fact that setting up the agreement once I am back in Germany and flying in again is not sufficient, all reeks of a bureaucracy creating work for itself, at the expense of (U.S.-)taxpayer money."

About the author

    As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.


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