Prior Convictions That Can Result in Inadmissibility

An individual can be deemed inadmissible on several different grounds, including having a prior conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, a prior conviction for a drug offense. However, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) describes very particular sets of offenses that qualify as crimes of moral turpitude or drug offenses. Below a DC immigration attorney discusses these specific crimes and what you should know. To learn more call today.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude Under INA 212(a)(2)

Basically, a crime involving moral turpitude is a very vague definition that has been extensively litigated throughout the years. It’s essentially defined as a crime that is inherently vile or depraved or a reprehensible act that has a level of intent of at least recklessness. That’s a general definition but it varies from statute to statute or whether or not your individual crime will be considered a CIMT.

It’s something that you usually need to look to case law to determine. There’s not a rule book that says exactly which crimes qualify and which do not.

State by State Interpretation of Crimes of Moral Turpitude

The definition for a crime involving moral turpitude is a federal definition that arises under the Immigration and Nationality Act. So, it applies equally to all immigration proceedings across the country. However, because criminal statutes differ from state to state, you need to do an individualized analysis for each state criminal offense to determine the consequences. For instance, a burglary conviction could be a CIMT in one state but not in another, depending on the language of the statute and the breadth of conduct it encompasses. So, an individualized analysis including an analysis of case law needs to be done for each conviction.

Drug Offenses and Inadmissibility Under INA (212)(a)(2)

Generally, an individual can be inadmissible for a drug crime if they are a non-citizen who has been convicted of or who has admitted to a violation of law that relates to a controlled substance. The list of controlled substances is defined in Section 802 of the United States Code. If you have committed any offense that falls under the federal definition of a controlled substance, then you may be considered inadmissible.

There’s another ground of inadmissibility that can apply to drug offenses, and that’s for trafficking or sale of drugs. This one is a little bit more dangerous for immigrants because it can also apply to people who an immigration officer who knows or has reason to believe may have been an elicit trafficker in a controlled substance.

Types of Drug Offenses

The general ground of inadmissibility can be any kind of drug offense including possession. But in order to be inadmissible for that basic ground of criminal drug-related inadmissibility, you must have been actually convicted of a drug offense. However, for the trafficking or sale ground it is possible for immigration officers to just know or have reason to believe that you are involved in drug trafficking for you to be rendered inadmissible. So, it’s broader. In rarer cases you can also be rendered inadmissible on drug-related grounds if you are suspected to be a drug abuser, but this is hard charge for the government to make without a conviction.