Foreign nationals with histories of criminal or terrorist activities, drug abuse, infectious medical problems, or previous immigration violations may never be allowed admission into the United States and/or may be denied permanent residency based on certain factors of the law. Those factors are known as grounds of inadmissibility or deportability/ removability.

Inadmissibility refers to people who are seeking to gain a green card or to be admitted to the United States. Deportability and Removability are often used interchangeably and mean the same thing – that someone who is in the United States can no longer stay.

A finding of inadmissibility is usually made by a Consular Officer during an immigrant visa interview, by an USCIS Officer during an interview inside the U.S., and may also be made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) upon detaining a foreign national. Removability is determined by ICE or an Immigration Judge.

  • Inadmissibility refers to the rules that apply to a person attempting to gain admission into the United States or to a person currently in the United States after entering illegally.
  • Removability refers to the rules that apply to a person that is currently in the United States after being lawfully admitted into the country.

Although some of the grounds of inadmissibility are similar to the grounds of removability, they are not exactly the same. The immigration consequences of certain acts can result in vastly different outcomes for a foreign national deemed as inadmissible or removable by the U.S. government.

Foreign nationals (whether permanent resident or not) facing inadmissibility or removability should consult with an immigration attorney and receive information about the potential consequences of their violations of the law and learn whether they can apply for a waiver.

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