The Immigration and Nationality Act sets forth a number of grounds of “inadmissibility” that may prevent an applicant from qualifying for an immigrant visa or permanent resident status. Most people recognize that if an individual has a criminal record, committed some sort of fraud, or previously violated the immigration laws, there may be potential problems. However, negative criminal or immigration histories are not the only reasons why a visa may be refused or a permanent residence case denied. Inadmissibility actually covers a wide swath of conduct and circumstances including physical and mental disorders. INA Section 212(a)(1)(A)(iii)(I) provides that any alien who is determined…
1) to have a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others, or
2) to have had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder, which behavior has posed a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others and which behavior is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior, or
3) who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to be a drug abuser or addict
Alcohol dependence and abuse. A DWI/DUI conviction does not necessarily bar a person from receiving a visa or green card. However, multiple arrests for and/or convictions for Driving While Intoxicated may raise questions as to whether the person has an alcohol dependency problem, which is a ground to refuse a visa, if it is deemed a disorder that involves harmful behavior. Note that being an alcoholic is not necessarily what is being prescribed but rather being dependent on alcohol in a manner that endangers others.
Mental Disorders. There are countless mental disorders that could potentially raise questions as to an applicant’s fitness for a visa. Some disorders must involve a finding by a medical professional of harmful behavior in order be considered a disorder such as bipolar disorders and depressive disorders. Some disorders that may be associated with harmful behavior include but are not limited to mood disorders, mental retardation, dementia, and anxiety related disorders.
Drug Abusers or Addicts. The interesting aspect of this ground is that an individual does not necessarily have to be convicted of a drug offense in order to be deemed inadmissible. An individual could be determined by his/her prior medical history to have abused or be addicted to an illegal substance even if he/she has not been convicted of a criminal offense in a court of law. Someone that is addicted to marijuana could in this instance be deemed inadmissible if a panel physician has made the necessary determination.
If a visa applicant even remotely has issues relating to the above topics, it might be worthwhile to explore the ramifications with an attorney. Although these issues might have to be disclosed or inevitably come up during a medical exam or background check, there may be ways to address them and rebut any negative findings or inferences. Additionally, under certain grounds, some physical and mental disorders may not necessarily present an admissibility problem if there is evidence of remission, which is indicated by the absence of the harmful behavior or disorder for a period of twelve months or more. Furthermore, even assuming that there is a basis for inadmissibility, there may-depending on the circumstances and ground-be a waiver that is available to cure this ground. The important point is to recognize, anticipate, and prepare for situations where this ground of inadmissibility is likely to come up.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned at least one new thing or tip that you may not have known. To keep informed about the latest developments in immigration law, please subscribe to our blog feed by clicking on the “Subscribe To This Blog’s Feed” button on the left. It is important to understand that the above is only general information and not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor should it be relied upon as legal advice. The law is extremely fact and circumstance sensitive. For an individual legal analysis of your specific legal case, please complete the “Case Evaluation” box to the right of the screen to get in touch with one of our attorneys.