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Inadmissibility: When the U.S. Can Keep You Out

What is "Inadmissibility"?

Everyone who applies to enter or stay in the United States, no matter how long the person plans to be here or whether the person already has a green card, is checked to see whether he or she is "inadmissible." There are many reasons why a person may be inadmissible to the United States. In general, you may be denied entry if:

  • You have a communicable disease;
  • You are determined to be a drug abuser or addict;
  • You have a criminal record of multiple convictions;
  • You have committed a crime involving moral turpitude;
  • You violated any law or regulation relating to a controlled substance;
  • You have trafficked in persons;
  • You have been involved in money laundering;
  • You have overstayed a previous period of admission to the United States.

The legal descriptions of these grounds of inadmissibility are lengthy and complex and the foregoing list should not be interpreted to be a comprehensive list of reasons one may be denied entry into the United States.

Applicants who are found to be inadmissible will not be allowed a visa, green card, or U.S. entry; however, certain grounds of inadmissibility allow for a "waiver of inadmissibility."

How to Obtain a Waiver of Inadmissibility

A number of technical factors control whether you are inadmissible, and if so, whether you can overcome that finding with a waiver.

The most common grounds of inadmissibility that allow for and require waivers fall into three categories: prior immigration violations, criminal records, and misrepresentations to the U.S. government.

If you accumulated unlawful presence in the United States and are subject to the three-year or ten-year bar upon departure and attempted reentry, you may qualify to file a waiver application if you have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, fiancé, or parent who will experience "extreme hardship" if you are denied admission.

If you are inadmissible because of your criminal history, you may be eligible for a waiver under section 212(h) of the INA, which identifies certain criminal grounds that allow for a waiver application, including crimes of moral turpitude, prostitution, and a single offense of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

Another common ground of inadmissibility that allows for a waiver application is having secured an immigration benefit through fraud or misrepresentation. Like unlawful presence waivers, you need to have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, fiancé, or parent to qualify for this application. You are also required to show that this qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship if you are denied admission.

Cases requiring a waiver of inadmissibility are complex and you should seek legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney. The attorneys at Ross & Pines have years of experience with waiver cases, and can help you analyze whether you are inadmissible and eligible for a waiver.

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