Immigrants traveling to the US have had a hard time during the past year. Even US permanent residents with green cards are experiencing difficulty returning to the US. Especially those with criminal records seeking to be readmitted. Non-citizens considering travel abroad should exercise caution.
Think before making any long trip, before seeking new immigration benefits, or applying for citizenship. You may be denied admission if these “inadmissibility” grounds apply if you:
(1) have abandoned or relinquished your permanent resident status,
(2) have been absent from the United States for a continuous period in excess of 180 days,
(3) have engaged in illegal activity after departure from the U.S.,
(4) have departed from the U.S. while in removal or extradition proceedings,
(5) have committed a criminal or related offense (including “crimes of moral turpitude”, drug trafficking, or prostitution),
(6) are attempting to enter at a place other than a designated port of entry or have not been admitted to the U.S. after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.
What to some may seem relatively minor crimes, for example theft or domestic violence, may in fact be grounds for inadmissibility. Inadmissability is a term used in immigration that means you will not be allowed to return to the US even if your family is there and you already have a green card.
If after having received your green card, you commit a crime (or more than one crime) these infractions would not come to the attention of immigration authorities until you travel abroad. At that time you may be denied entry.
Since 9/11 the immigration service has developed elaborate systems to track travel in and out of the US. All passports are now machine readable. Fingerprinting technology has evolved over the past 15 years. Paper-based systems have been phased out. Most records are now electronic and it is easier than ever to match fingerprint records with immigration benefits and travel.
Given these new events, it is still possible to overcome an issue at the border with the right information.
Many of the grounds of inadmissibility can be waived in individual cases. For example, INA § 212(d)(3) allows the Secretary for Homeland Security to waive any of the grounds, except for a few security-related provisions, for nonimmigrants applying for a visa or seeking admission.
Waivers for permanent residents are more limited.
Are you a nonimmigrant or green card holder planning a trip? Clear any concerns you have in advance with an immigration attorney.