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ABCs of Immigration - Grounds of Inadmissibility
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

In this article, we will begin a series dealing with grounds of inadmissibility to the U.S. To be “admitted” to the US one must be inspected by an immigration inspector at the port of entry. Not every person in the US has been admitted, such as those who have entered without inspection and those who have been paroled into the US. While the concept of “admission” was replaced with that of “entry” in 1996, admission remains the commonly used phrase.

The concept of inadmissibility arises in a number of contexts. It is an issue when the visa application is made and when the foreign national seeks entry to the US. It also comes up when a person in deportation proceedings is alleged to have been inadmissible at the time of entry or was not inspected at their entry. It can also be a factor is a permanent resident is alleged to have abandoned their permanent residency.

There are 10 basic grounds of inadmissibility. These are:

  • Health related grounds;
  • Criminal grounds;
  • Security grounds;
  • Public charge grounds;
  • Labor certifications;
  • Undocumented entry and immigration status violations;
  • Documentation requirements;
  • Ineligibility for citizenship;
  • Previous removal or unlawful presence; and
  • Miscellaneous
Each of these grounds will be discussed in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but now a brief overview of each is provided.

Health related grounds

Persons with communicable diseases that are considered significant public health risks are inadmissible. Among these diseases are HIV and tuberculosis. Also, a failure to show documentation of certain vaccinations is a ground of inadmissibility. Persons with a history of physical or mental disorders that have or may in the future pose a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the person or others is inadmissible. Finally, people found to be drug abusers are inadmissible.

Criminal grounds

A conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude makes a person inadmissible. However, a single offense that occurred before the age of 18 and more than five years ago will not be considered, nor will offenses for which the maximum punishment was only one year and the alien was sentenced to six months or less. Convictions for crimes involving controlled substances lead to inadmissibility. Convictions for more than one crime for which the person was sentenced to at least five total years in prison make a person inadmissible. Engaging in prostitution or commercialized vice is a basis for inadmissibility. A person who has committed a serious offense in the US and has claimed immunity from prosecution is inadmissible. Engaging in the persecution of other on the basis of their religious beliefs is a ground of inadmissibility, as is engaging in the trafficking of human beings.

Security grounds

If a consular officer or INS inspector has a reasonable ground to believe that the person is coming to the US to engage in espionage or sabotage, or to violate any law relating to prohibitions on exports from the US, the person is inadmissible. Members of a group designated as a terrorist organization are inadmissible, as are people engaged in terrorist activities. If it is determined that the alien’s presence in the US would have negative foreign policy consequences, the person can be denied admission. People who were members of the Communist Party or other totalitarian organizations are generally inadmissible, as are people who assisted in Nazi era persecution. Finally, those who have engaged in genocide are inadmissible.

Public charge

A person who is likely to become a public charge is inadmissible. The effect of this is that family-based immigrants must have a valid affidavit of support.

Labor certification

A person coming to the US to work must have a labor certification, unless they are able to qualify for one of the other employment-based immigration categories. People coming to the US to work as physicians must pass part I and II of the National Board of Medical Examiners Examination, or its equivalent. Other health care workers must present certification from designated entities.

Undocumented entry and immigration status violations

Anyone who comes to the US without permission of the INS or State Department is inadmissible. Failure to attend removal proceedings without a good reason makes a person inadmissible for five years. Anyone who engages in fraud or misrepresentation in an effort to enter the US is inadmissible, as are those who have made a false claim of US citizenship. Those who violate the terms of a student visa are also inadmissible for five years.

Documentation requirements

If the applicant for entry does not possess a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, they are inadmissible.

Ineligibility for citizenship

A person permanently barred from obtaining US citizenship is inadmissible. This category of people primarily includes people who got out of military service based on their alienage, and people who left the US to avoid the draft.

Previous removal or unlawful presence

Aliens who have been deported are inadmissible. After a first deportation, the person is inadmissible for five years, and after subsequent deportations, the period of inadmissibility is 20 years. A person deported because of an aggravated felony are permanently inadmissible. People who have been unlawfully present in the US for more than 180 days but less than a year are inadmissible for three years. Unlawful presence of more than a year leads to inadmissibility for ten years.

Miscellaneous

Persons coming to the US to engage in polygamy are inadmissible. A person is also inadmissible if it is determined that they are required to assist another person who is inadmissible. Persons who have detained a US citizen child outside the US are inadmissible until they comply with any court order regarding the child’s custody. Finally, former US citizens who renounced their citizenship for tax purposes are inadmissible.


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defender’s office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com



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