Some Common Grounds of Inadmissibility

June 9, 2017 7:43 am
by David Jakeman

The United States government requires that new immigrants to this country meet certain criteria before they can be lawfully admitted.  “Admissibility” is a legal term of art, meaning its definition is more complex than its everyday usage.  For example, even though admissibility applies to immigrants seeking to enter the country at the border or by obtaining a visa, it also applies to immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years but who evaded inspection upon initial entry.  It also applies to immigrants who have come here under a temporary visa and now seek to adjust to permanent status.  If an immigrant who is seeking to be admitted does not meet the government’s criteria, he is deemed “inadmissible.”  Below, we will briefly review a few of the common grounds of inadmissibility listed under INA § 212.  Many of the grounds provide waivers that will allow the immigrant to be admitted so long as he complies with specific conditions.  Future blog posts will explore some of these grounds in more detail.  Additionally, the experienced immigration attorneys at Beacon Immigration are always available for consultation.


The government has an interest in denying admissibility to those who pose a risk to the public health.  There are four main categories of denial under this ground.  The first is for persons with communicable diseases of public health significance.  The second is for persons with physical or mental disorders which threaten their own safety or the property, welfare, or safety of others. The third is for drug abusers and addicts.  The fourth is for those who fail to show that they have been properly vaccinated against certain vaccine-preventable diseases such as mumps, measles, and hepatitis.  With the exception of drug users/abusers, waivers are available in this category.


By far the most common ground of inadmissibility is criminal-related.  This ground principally applies to those who have committed crimes of moral turpitude, who have two or more criminal convictions, prostitutes or procurers of prostitute, and drug offenders and traffickers.  Defining “crimes of moral turpitude” is often a topic of debate; however, specific crimes that have been found to involve moral turpitude include murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, theft, spousal abuse, any crime involving fraud, and some aggravated DUI offenses.  Waivers are available in some instances but not for serious crimes like murder or attempted murder.  Waivers are also unavailable for drug offenders and traffickers unless the crime was for simple possession of less than thirty grams of marijuana or simple possession by juveniles.

National Security

The government has long sought to deny admission to immigrants who pose a threat to the public safety or to the establishment of the U.S. government.  This of course includes spies, terrorists, those intending to overthrow the U.S. government, and those intending to engage in unlawful or subversive activity.  The ground also covers voluntary members of totalitarian parties.  Since 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, the terrorist grounds have been expanded.  For example, the definition of terrorist organizations has been broadened and those who use positions of prominence to endorse terrorism are now inadmissible.  A waiver is available only to members of a totalitarian party if stringent conditions are met.