Inadmissibility Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act

Inadmissibility is the inability of an immigrant to be admitted to the United States. These grounds are listed in INA Section 212. There are several grounds of inadmissibility which include health, criminal activity, national security, fraud and misrepresentation, prior removals, and unlawful presence in the United States. There are waivers available for some of these grounds, including fraud or misrepresentation. Some grounds, like terrorism, do not have such waivers. Waivers are permitted, in some cases, if the individual has a “qualifying relative” who would experience undue hardship if the person is not admitted. In this page, we will discuss some of these grounds and their waivers.

Public Health Grounds of Inadmissibility

Some health conditions ban some individuals from being admitted to the United States. These conditions include:

  • Chancroids;
  • Gonorrhea;
  • Granuloma inguinale;
  • Infectious leprosy;
  • Lymphogranuloma venereum;
  • Infectious syphilis; and
  • Active tuberculosis.

The law also bars individuals with certain mental and physical disorders that are likely to reoccur from being admitted to the United States. Moreover, a person who is a drug abuser or addict from being admitted to the United States. Some of these grounds are waivable under Section 212(g) of the Immigration & Naturalization Act.

Criminal Grounds of Inadmissibility

The criminal grounds of inadmissibility include the following:

  • Crimes involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs);
  • Violation of any controlled substance law in the United States or abroad;
  • Multiple criminal convictions;
  • Drug Trafficking;
  • Prostitution;
  • Commercialized vice;
  • The assertion of Immunity from Prosecution;
  • Violations of Religious Freedom;
  • Human Trafficking; and
  • Money Laundering.

The definition of these crimes is complicated. For example, a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) is not defined under the law. However, federal courts and the Board of Immigration have classified several crimes, including fraud and crimes of violence, as Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude. You should consult with an immigration attorney regarding any crimes before applying for any immigration benefits.

Fraud or Misrepresentation Ground of Inadmissibility

This ground of inadmissibility is one of the most commonly used to deny immigration benefits. To be inadmissible for this ground you must:

  • Make a false statement, written or oral, to a United States government officer;
  • The misrepresentation must be material, meaning that it goes to the heart of the benefit
  • The person must have intended to make such misrepresentation


Unlawful Presence and Prior Removals Ground of Inadmissibility

The law bars individuals who have accrued unlawful presence in the United States from entering the United States. Immigrants who have also been removed previously will also be inadmissible. An immigrant who accrues 180 days of unlawful presence in the United States will be barred from being admitted will be barred from entering the United States for 3 years. An individual who accrues more than 360 days of unlawful presence will be barred for 10 years.

Immigrants who have been previously removed from the United States are also barred from reentry. However, all of these individuals may apply for waivers of inadmissibility if they have “qualifying relatives” who would experience hardship if the individual is not admitted.

Waivers of Inadmissibility

As mention above, certain individuals who are inadmissible under these grounds may apply for a Waiver of Inadmissibility using form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. The waiver would be approved if the person shows that his qualifying relatives would experience undue hardship if the person were not admitted.

Individuals who have accrued unlawful presence and are in the United States may apply for a provisional waiver of inadmissibility before they depart. This form of waiver is filed by using for I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.

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