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Grounds of Inadmissibility to the United States

by Hamid R. Kashani, Attorney at Law
Nov 07, 2018 (last modified Jan 31, 2019)

Typically, noncitizens, who wish to enter the United States, must first obtain a visa from a U.S. consulate overseas and then present themselves at a port of entry, where they will be interviewed (often briefly) by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  The CBP officer may then authorize the noncitizen to enter into the United States.

The interview at the port of entry is what commonly referred to “inspection.”  Admission into the United States happens, when the CBP officer interviews the noncitizens and admits them into the United States (i.e., allows them to enter the country).

To receive a visa and to be admitted into the country, noncitizens must not be “inadmissible.”  Certain individuals are deemed “inadmissible.” Some grounds of inadmissibility are temporary and easily curable, e.g., lack of vaccination; some grounds are for a period of years, e.g., student visa abusers who are barred for five (5) years; and some grounds are permanent bars, e.g., committing fraud or willful misrepresentation to secure immigration benefits.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 212, defines general classes of noncitizens who are “inadmissible,” i.e., grounds of inadmissibility.

Classes of Inadmissible Non-Citizens INA §
Health-Related Grounds
  • Noncitizens who have communicable diseases of public health significance
  • Certain noncitizens who lack a minimum number of vaccinations
  • Noncitizens with mental or behavior disorders, and in some circumstances those who have had a history of such disorders, which may pose a public safety risk
  • Drug abusers and addicts.
212(a)(1)
Criminal Acts and Related Grounds
  • Non-citizens who have been convicted of, or admit having committed essential elements of, crimes of moral turpitude (except for purely political offenses)
  • Non-citizens who have violated (or have conspired or attempted to violate), or admit have committed essential elements of violating, any laws regarding controlled substance.
212(a)(2)(A)
Criminal Acts with Multiple Convictions
  • Non-citizens who have been convicted of, or admit having committed essential elements of, crimes of moral turpitude (except for purely political offenses)
  • Non-citizens who have violated (or have conspired or attempted to violate), or admit have committed essential elements of violating, any laws regarding controlled substance.
212(a)(2)(B)
Trafficking Drugs and Controlled Substances
  • Drug Traffickers
  • Spouses and children of a drug trafficker, who have obtained financial support from the drug trafficker within the past five (5) years and knew or should have known that the funds were the product of drug trafficking
212(a)(2)(C)
Prostitution and Commercialized Vice
  • Non-citizens who engage in prostitution or commercialized vice
  • Non-citizens who procure prostitute services or commercial vice
212(a)(2)(D)
Non-citizens who have committed certain crimes in the United States and have escaped prosecution on the basis of some immunity 212(a)(2)(E)
Foreign government officials who have participated in severe violations of religious freedom 212(a)(2)(G)
Human traffickers and their beneficiaries 212(a)(2)(H)
Money Launderers 212(a)(2)(I)
Security and related grounds
  • Spies, saboteurs, and terrorists and their associates and promoters
  • Non-citizens whose presence would have adverse foreign policy consequences
  • Members of totalitarian parties
  • Participants in Nazi persecution, genocide, and extrajudicial killings
  • Associates of terrorist organizations
  • Recruiters and users of child soldiers
212(a)(3)
Non-citizens who may become a public charge 212(a)(4)
Certain noncitizens who have failed to obtain labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor 212(a)(5)
Undocumented immigrants, except for certain VAWA self-petitioners 212(a)(6)(A)
Non-citizens who fail to attend removal proceedings, who will then be inadmissible for five (5) years after their departure 212(a)(6)(B)
Misrepresentation
  • Non-citizens who have committed fraud or willful misrepresentation to secure immigration benefits
  • Certain noncitizens who have falsely claimed U.S. citizenship
212(a)(6)(C)
Stowaways 212(a)(6)(D)
Smugglers 212(a)(6)(E)
Non-citizens who have been fined for document fraud under INA § 274C 212(a)(6)(F)
Student Visa Abusers, unless they have remained outside of the United States for five (5) years 212(a)(6)(G)
Immigrants who are permanently ineligible to become U.S. citizens 212(a)(8)(A)
Draft dodgers 212(a)(8)(B)
Arriving noncitizens, who previously have been removed after an expedited removal or removal proceeding initiated upon their arrival, who will then be inadmissible for
  • Five (5) years after the first removal;
  • Twenty (20) years after the second removal; or
  • Permanently, if convicted of an aggravated felony
212(a)(9)(A)(i)
Non-citizens, who have previously self-deported or have been removed pursuant to an order of removal, who will then be inadmissible for
  • Ten (10) years after the first removal;
  • Twenty (20) years after the second removal; or
  • Permanently, if convicted of an aggravated felony
212(a)(9)(A)(i)
Non-citizens, who have departed the United States after accumulating more than 180 days, but less than one (1) year, of unlawful presence in a single visit, who will then be inadmissible for three (3) years after their departure 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I)
Non-citizens, who have departed the United States after accumulating one (1) year or more of unlawful presence in a single visit to the country, who will then be inadmissible for ten (10) years after their departure 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II)
Non-citizens, who
  1. have been unlawfully present for an aggregate period of more than one year, or
  2. have been removed after an expedited removal or removal proceeding;
who thereafter enter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted
212(a)(9)(C)
Non-citizens coming to the United States to practice polygamy 212(a)(10)(A)
Helpless noncitizens, who are coming without a guardian 212(a)(10)(B)
International child abductors and those who assist them 212(a)(10)(C)
Unlawful voters 212(a)(10)(D)
Former U.S. citizens who renounced their citizenship to avoid taxation 212(a)(10)(E)

Notes.

  • It is not necessary for a noncitizen to have been convicted of the specified crimes in order to be found inadmissible for immigration purposes. Any noncitizen, who admits having committed the criminal act or admits the commission of particular acts that are the essential elements of the crime, would be inadmissible.
  • Some grounds of inadmissibility are subject to exceptions and waivers.  If the facts suggest that you may fall within any of these grounds, you should consult an attorney to determine whether you would qualify for an exception or waiver.
  • Some grounds of inadmissibility (such as willful misrepresentation), which are not subject to exceptions and waivers, are still subject to interpretation and qualifications. If the facts suggest that you may fall within any of these grounds, you should consult an attorney to determine whether your circumstances would place you outside the purview of these grounds.

Related Topics:

90-Day Rule

Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

Waiver of Certain Grounds of Inadmissibility

Provisional Waiver for Unlawful Presence

 

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