What To Know If You Are Barred From The United States

When I previously discussed why Canadians may be barred from the United States if they admit to smoking marijuana, I did not discuss what options might be available if a Canadian is actually barred by United States Customs and Border Protection ("USCBP") based on criminal grounds. I will now address this issue below.

Overview of Criminal Grounds of Inadmissibility

The Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") contains several criminal grounds of inadmissibility, including the following (among others):

  1. Controlled substance crimes - This ground includes offenses such as simple possession of a controlled substance. It results in a permanent bar to the United States if: (i) there is a conviction, or (ii) the foreign national admits to committing the offense.
  2. Controlled substance trafficking crimes - This ground includes the more serious offense of possession of a controlled substance for the purposes of trafficking. It results in a permanent bar to the United States and may be imposed even if there is no conviction or admission; it requires only that the USCBP officer have reason to believe that the foreign national has committed the offense.
  3. Crimes involving moral turpitude ("CIMT") - The term "moral turpitude" is not clearly defined but has been referred to as conduct that is "inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between ... one's fellow man or society in general." This ground results in a permanent bar to the United States if: (i) there is a conviction, or (ii) the foreign national admits to committing the essential elements of the offense.
  4. Prostitution and commercialized vice - This results in only a ten year bar, rather than a permanent bar. However, it may be imposed even if there is no conviction or admission.
  5. Multiple criminal convictions - A foreign national who is convicted of two or more offenses will be barred if the aggregate sentence of confinement actually imposed was five years or more. This ground results in a permanent bar to the United States.

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