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Laws current as of June 17, 2024

What are "grounds of inadmissibility"?

Most people who want to enter the U.S. or get legal status in the U.S. must show that they are not barred by a long set of rules called the “grounds of inadmissibility.”1 This is also true for refugees when they apply for refugee status, when they are “inspected” by Customs and Border Patrol to come into the U.S. as a refugee, and when they apply for lawful permanent residence. Not all of the rules apply to refugees, however.2 These rules are very complicated and your lawyer will need to know what the immigration courts and federal courts have said about them to answer the government’s questions correctly.

If one of the “grounds of admissibility” applies to you, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider the pros and cons of your application to decide whether or not to excuse (waive) the inadmissibility ground by granting you a waiver.3 If USCIS denies you a waiver, they will deny your case. If you are in the U.S., they may put you into immigration proceedings, which may result in your deportation. This is one main reason you must work with an immigration lawyer or advocate who knows about refugee status and lawful permanent residence when applying.

1 See INA § 212; 8 USC § 1182
2 INA §§ 207(c)(3); 209(a)(2), (c); 8 USC §§ 1157(c)(3); 1159(a)(2), (c)
3 INA §§ 207(c)(3); 209(c); 8 USC §§ 1157(c)(3); 1159(c)