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Legal Information: Federal

Immigration

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Updated: 
December 18, 2020

What are "grounds of inadmissibility"?

Most people who want to enter the U.S. or get legal status in the U.S. must show 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. All of the rules don’t 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 you have a problem with one of the “grounds” on the list, 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 the USCIS denies you a waiver, they will deny your case and 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
2 8 USC §§ 1157(c)(3); 1159(a)(2), (c)
3 8 USC §§ 1157(c)(3); 1159(c)