An alien may apply for a visa at a U.S. Consul in his home country. If a visa is issued to him, he is free to come to the U.S. and attempt to enter. At the border, he will then undergo inspection, or questioning, by Immigration. Counsel is not afforded to such person. Since the alien is seen as 'knocking at the door', he is not deemed to have constitutional protection.

Applying for Admission

Immigration law is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act, which provides the basic framework for the immigration system. Any alien (outside the United States) wishing to live in the U.S. must apply for an immigrant visa. However, the alien must do so at a U.S. Consulate in his home country, not at the port of entry. An alien wishing to receive an immigrant visa must obtain a sponsor (a U.S. citizen, usually a family member) who files a petition to allow the alien to apply for admission.

Grounds of Inadmissibility

When an alien first applies for admission, he is subject to grounds of inadmissibility (formerly "exclusion"). Inadmissibility is considered by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) at the time of arrival at a port of entry. Grounds of inadmissibility can be considered at the time of the visa application, at any admission, or when adjusting status.
An alien who is deemed inadmissible may not enter the country. An alien may be inadmissible for a number of reasons, including:

  • Health
    • Any alien who is determined to have a communicable disease that is a public health concern is inadmissible.
    • Any alien who has failed to produce documentation of vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases is inadmissible.
    • Those who are determined to have a physical or mental disorder and may be a threat to themselves or others are inadmissible.
    • Drug abusers and addicts are inadmissible.
  • Criminal
    • Those convicted of certain crimes, such as a crime of moral turpitude (those acts which violate the moral standards of the U.S.) or a violation of a controlled substance law of any country, are inadmissible.
    • Those who have convicted multiple crimes may be inadmissible.
    • Those who have engaged in drug trafficking, prostitution, trafficking in persons, money laundering, etc. may be inadmissible.
  • Security
    • Those who seek to enter the U.S. to engage in acts of espionage (the illegal export of goods, technology, or sensitive information) or sabotage (activities relating to the overthrow of the U.S. government) against the U.S. are inadmissible.
    • Any alien who is engaged in, is believed to be engaged in or likely to engage in, or has incited terrorist activity is inadmissible. Any alien who is a member of or has supported a terrorist organization is inadmissible.
    • Any alien whose presence the Secretary of State has reason to believe would have a serious adverse foreign policy consequence is inadmissible.
  • Economic
    • Those who are deemed likely at any time to become a public charge (i.e. ending up on welfare) are inadmissible. The government will take into account the alien's (1) age, (2) health, (3) family status, (4) assets, resources, and financial status, and (5) education and skills. The government may also take into account an affidavit of support.
    • Those aliens entering to perform skilled or unskilled labor are inadmissible, unless the Secretary of Labor has certified that the alien's type of work is needed and that it would not adversely affect the wages and conditions of the workers in the country.
  • Illegal Entrance/Immigration Violations
    • Those present without admission or parole, who fail to attend a removal proceeding, or who by fraud or willful misrepresentation seek to obtain admission are inadmissible.
    • Stowaways and smugglers are inadmissible.
    • Any alien without proper documentation or who has been previously removed is inadmissible.

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you are deemed inadmissible it is important to speak to an Immigration Attorney. They can advise you of your rights in this complicated area of the law.