Surrounding the immigration policy debate, it seems that many do not have a clear understanding of the United States (US) immigration system. For example, I was watching a news show the other day during which the anchor stat that he was “concerned that criminals, terrorists, and the poverty stricken are going to flood our immigration system.” Clearly, there are several people out there who have a misunderstanding of how our laws work, particularly concerning the immigration grounds of inadmissibility.
How do the grounds work? Well, let’s start from the very beginning. The US immigration system requires immigrants to qualify for a visa by falling into certain categories (e.g. various types of family-based or employment based categories). If the applicant doesn’t fall into these categories, then the general rule is that immigrating becomes virtually impossible (with a few exceptions). There are plenty of categories. So, people can often qualify for one category or another.
However, what makes the US immigration system acutely more forbidding is that (under Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act) the US will preemptively disqualify certain applicants by referring to them as being “inadmissible.” This means that the U.S. will not even consider allowing certain people to apply to immigrate to the US for certain reasons. These “certain reasons” are called the “grounds of inadmissibility.”
What are the grounds? There are several, but they essentially fall into about 9 major categories (if we consider the most applied and enforced grounds). They are:
- Health Grounds – This includes persons with a communicable disease, certain threatening mental disorders, drug abusers and persons who fail to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated, etc.
- Criminal Grounds – This includes persons who have COMMITTED crimes involving moral turpitude, persons with 2 or more criminal convictions, certain drug offenders, etc.
- National Security Grounds – This includes terrorists, voluntary members of totalitarian parties, etc.
- Economic grounds – This includes persons who are likely to become a public charge, and more.
- Labor certification and Employment Grounds – This includes persons without approved labor certifications for certain green card applications, and more.
- Immigration Violation Grounds – This includes: a.) persons who entered the U.S. without inspection; b.) persons who were deported after a hearing and seek readmission within ten years; c.) persons who have failed to attend removal (deportation) hearings; d.) persons who made misrepresentations during the immigration process; e.) persons who a made false claim to U.S. citizenship; f.) persons who are subject to the unlawful presence bars; g.) persons who are smugglers of illegal aliens… etc.
- Document Violation Grounds.
- Draft Evasion and Ineligibility for Citizenship Grounds.
- Miscellaneous Grounds – This includes unlawful voters, and more.
Sometimes one may be able to avoid having a specific ground of inadmissibility enforced against them by getting what is called a “waiver.” For example, a waiver is available to a smuggler of illegal aliens if the applicant was 1) smuggling in people who were immediate family members (spouse, parent, son or daughter ONLY) at the time, and 2) the applicant either is a permanent resident or is immigrating under a family-based visa petition as an immediate relative
So, in the end, I assert that “Mr. Anchorman, the US immigration system is not as simple to circumvent as you suggest.”