Grounds of Deportability Vs. Grounds of Inadmissibility in U.S. Immigration Law

U.S. immigration laws contain numerous grounds upon which non-citizens may either be deported back to their country of origin (the technical term for which is "removed") or refused entry into the United States.

U.S. immigration laws contain numerous grounds upon which non-citizens may either be deported back to their country of origin (the technical term for which is "removed") or refused entry into the United States. In fact, the laws divide these grounds into two separate categories:

  • The grounds of inadmissibility, found in Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.). These apply to a foreign-born person seeking admission to the United States, including both literally seeking entry at the U.S. border, airport, or other port of entry, and also to foreign-born persons seeking the right to stay in the U.S. legally, such as with a green card application (lawful permanent residence). In some cases, the grounds of inadmissibility can even be applied to green card holders who are returning to the U.S. after foreign travel.
  • The grounds of deportability, found in Section 237 of the I.N.A. These apply to people already legally living within the United States, in many cases with a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa or a green card. They also specify that people who are in the U.S. without legal permission (also referred to as "undocumented" or "illegal") shall be deported.

There are waivers and exceptions to some of these, but you'll want to speak with an attorney for the details.

Both Inadmissibility and Deportability Can Lead to Removal

If U.S. immigration authorities believe that you are deportable, or that you were inadmissible during your last U.S. entry, removal proceedings may be started against you. You will have a chance to argue your case and in some cases to ask for a waiver (legal forgiveness). However, this might occur in the context of deportation and removal proceedings in immigration court. In any case, you'll want a lawyer's help with this type of issue.

Once an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, they cannot be removed unless they used fraud to gain citizenship or another immigration benefit. As soon as you are eligible, obtaining U.S. citizenship is a good way to safeguard your status in the United States.

Learn more about defending yourself from Deportation.

Grounds of Inadmissibility Found in U.S. Immigration Law

Here's a brief summary of the types of personal characteristics or history that can make someone inadmissible to the United States.

Again, this is just a brief summary, intended to highlight potential trouble areas. Do not attempt to analyze your personal immigration situation based on this list.

For more on being "inadmissible," see Who Can't Get Into The United States?

Grounds of Deportability Found in U.S. Immigration Law

Here's a brief summary of the types of personal characteristics or history that can make someone deportable from the United States.

  • Having gained legal status by committing marriage fraud.
  • Being a terrorist.
  • Having been convicted of any of certain crimes.
  • Having helped smuggle aliens into the U.S.
  • Having not deserved an earlier grant of legal status, because of having been inadmissible at the time.
  • Having failed to timely notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of one's changes of address. (Yes, that's really in there, though it isn't often enforced).
  • Having falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen in order to gain a benefit from the government

To read more about the grounds of deportability, see Can I Lose My Green Card and Be Deported?

In short, while there are clear distinctions between the grounds of inadmissibility and the grounds of deportability, both can present serious problems for non-citizens in the United States or seeking to enter. Consult an experienced immigration attorney with any questions or for a personal analysis.

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