To be “admitted” to the USA, 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:

 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.


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. 

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