There are several reasons that a person seeking admission to the United States may be denied entry or a person presently within the United States may find themselves facing removal (deportation). Understanding these grounds for removability is necessary to determine what options you may have for gaining entry to, or remaining in, the United States.
Persons who have a communicable disease of public health significance, who have not been immunized from certain diseases, or who have psychological problems that might render them dangerous to others or to themselves may not be admitted to the United States. A determination of inadmissibility for these reasons may be reviewed by a panel of physicians and the individual denied entry may bring his or her own medical expert to dispute the determination. Drug abusers, defined as those who engage in nonmedical use of a substance listed in § 202 of the Controlled Substances Act, are also inadmissible on health-related grounds.
Individuals already within the United States are not subject to removal for health-related grounds.
Persons who have committed or admit to the commission of acts that constitute the essential elements of a crime of moral turpitude (including attempts or conspiracy) or a violation of state, federal, or foreign laws relating to a controlled substance are inadmissible to the United States. There are exemptions for “petty offenses” where the person committed only one crime of moral turpitude and either the person was under 18 when the crime was committed (and was released from any confinement more than 5 years prior to the date of application for admission) or the maximum penalty for the crime did not exceed one year in prison and the person was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than six months.
In addition to crimes of moral turpitude (committed within five years of the latest entry) and controlled substance violations, crimes of domestic violence, firearms convictions, and aggravated felonies can all lead to deportation. Aggravated felonies include crimes involving rape, sexual abuse, illicit trafficking in a controlled substance, money laundering, firearm offenses, crimes of violence, theft offenses for which the term of imprisonment imposed is at least one year, and fraud or deceit crimes in which the loss to the victim exceeds $10,000. For a person to be deported on criminal grounds the person must be convicted of the offense at issue.
There are a variety of security and foreign-policy grounds for denying a person admission to the United States, including espionage, sabotage, illegal export of sensitive information, goods and technology, terrorism, Communist membership, and membership in a totalitarian political party. Other unique foreign-policy grounds for denying admission exist as well.
Persons may be deported on foreign-policy grounds for similar reasons, including the violation of laws relating to the export of goods, technology, or sensitive information, criminal activity that endangers the public safety and national security, or activity that has as its purpose the overthrow of the U.S. government by force, violence, or other unlawful means.
Admission may be denied to those “likely to become a public charge.” Generally, this concern arises in the context of family-based immigration and is overcome by the submission of an affidavit of support by the sponsor. The sponsor must show an income of 125% of the poverty line. This test may also be satisfied through a showing of assets.
Those who become a public charge within five years of admission, due to circumstances that did not arise after admission, are subject to deportation. Note that presently the person must have received what amounts to a cash payment from a government entity. However, this is a potentially changing area of the law, and it is unclear what changes may be made to the public charge definition. For deportation to occur, the entity that conferred the benefits must make a demand for repayment that was refused.
Persons may be inadmissible who:
Notably, a person who willfully misrepresents a material fact in obtaining or seeking to obtain a visa, documentation, or admission to the United States may be forever inadmissible. However, there are a variety of penalties that may attach to different violations of the immigration laws and it is best to consult with an attorney when facing potential removal for immigration law violations.
Additionally, failure to maintain status and failure to notify change of address may result in removal.
There are other grounds for denial of admission that are not necessarily criminal, such prohibitions on the admission of persons coming to practice polygamy, as well as those who engaged in, or seek to engage in, prostitution, or who have sought to procure a prostitute within the last 10 years. Whether these activities were legal in the country in which they took place is of no consequence.
As one can see, there are many grounds for removal and any interaction with the United States immigration authorities should be taken seriously. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us for a free consultation with a U.S. immigration attorney.
The above is general information only and not to be relied upon as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be relied upon as advice in lieu of consultation with an attorney.