What Are the Grounds of Inadmissibility?

When someone wants to enter the United States as a green card holder, or on a non-immigrant visa (example: tourist or work visa), immigration will evaluate that person to see if they have any grounds of inadmissibility. Grounds of inadmissibility are things that may preclude someone from entry into the United States. They apply when someone is seeking admission or entering the United States, and who have not yet been admitted. They should not be confused with Grounds of Deportability which apply to people who have already been admitted to the United States, although there is a lot of overlap between the two.

Common Grounds of Inadmissibility

The Grounds of Inadmissibility can be found in Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The following are the most common grounds of inadmissibility, although there are others:

  1. Health Grounds:

You may be found inadmissible if you have a communicable disease of public significance, certain physical or mental disorders, are unvaccinated, or are found to abuse drugs and alcohol.

  1. Criminal Grounds:

You may be found inadmissible if you commit certain Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) or violate any law relating to a controlled substance.

  • Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT): CIMTs are not defined in the INA. However, CIMTs generally are conduct that is inherently base, vile, depraved and shocks the public conscience. Many crimes have been designated CIMTs through case law. If you are convicted of a CIMT, you are inadmissible unless one of the following exceptions applies.
  • Exceptions to the CIMT ground of inadmissibility: A conviction for one CIMT will not make you inadmissible in the following situations:
  • Juvenile– if the CIMT was committed when you were under 18, and more than five years before the application for your visa.
  • Petty Offense Exception-the maximum penalty for the crime did not exceed imprisonment for one year, and you were not sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than six months.
  • Multiple Criminal Convictions: conviction of 2 or more offenses for which the aggregate sentences to confinement were five years or more, renders you inadmissible.
  • Other criminal grounds that may render you inadmissible are drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, and money laundering.
  1. Public Charge:

If the government thinks that you are likely to become a public charge, then you will be deemed inadmissible. In most cases, this can be cured by the execution of form I-864, Affidavit of Support.

  1. Illegal Entrants and Immigration Violators

You may be found inadmissible if you are (1) present in the United States without admission or parole or, (2) have failed to attend a removal proceeding. Other grounds of inadmissibility include:

  • Generally: Anyone who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to obtain a visa, documents, or admission to the United States, will be deemed inadmissible.
  • False Claim to Citizenship: anyone who has falsely claimed to be a United States Citizen will be deemed inadmissible.

Smugglers: If you have encouraged, assisted, or aided anyone in unlawfully entering the United States, you will be found inadmissible. This includes helping your own family members.

  1. Documentation Requirements:

Lack of documentation may be the most common ground of inadmissibility. If you do not have a valid, unexpired visa, or another valid entry document, you will be found inadmissible.

  1. Foreign Nationals Previously Removed:
  • Aliens Previously Removed: If you have been expeditedly removed you are inadmissible for five years. If you departed the U.S. under an order of removal, you are inadmissible for ten years.
  • Aliens Unlawfully Present:
  • If you have been unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than a year, and voluntarily depart the United States, you will be inadmissible for three years.
  • If you have been unlawfully present for more than one year, and voluntarily depart the United States, you will be inadmissible for ten years.
  • “Permanent Bar:” If you have been unlawfully present in the United States for an aggregate of one year OR have been removed, and attempt to enter the US without being admitted, you will be inadmissible.

If you believe that one of the grounds of inadmissibility applies to you, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in cases involving grounds of inadmissibility and waivers. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help!