Branded a Criminal--Inadmissibility to the United States


Section 212 of the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) describes various grounds for denying entry to the United States, from health-related protections to criminal and security-related provisions, as well as more administrative concerns relating to punishing those with a history of abusing US immigration laws or misrepresenting themselves to US officials.


An inadmissibility finding is not necessarily insurmountable. Waivers are available to both immigrants and nonimmigrants. The requirements vary depending on the visa sought and the inadmissibility to be overcome. Generally, nonimmigrants need to establish some element of rehabilitation and a rationale for entering the US, and to assure US officials that they do not pose a threat to the US. Immigrants must generally establish similar elements of rehabilitation; however, in most cases they must also establish that denial of the waiver would result in "extreme hardship" to a qualifying US citizen or LPR family member (a spouse or parent, or in some instances--but not all--children).

This article describes the legal standards for establishing eligibility for waivers of inadmissibility.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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