§212(a) Immigration Inadmissibility Grounds and Waivers

The various immigration inadmissibility grounds found under the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA), Section 212 can bar foreign nationals, or aliens, who are visa applicants that seek entry to the United States. Please note that, pursuant to current law, anyone who is in the country, but was not inspected at entry, will also have to prove that they are not inadmissible in removal proceedings. Below are the various grounds of inadmissibility for potential immigrants. I have also included a reference to the section that discusses waivers, if available. There is also a provision for “exceptions” to inadmissibility. These sections of the INA are similar to waivers and can overlap, but also provide a basis for an argument that a waiver is not needed because, in these circumstances, the “ground” for inadmissibility is “excepted” and, therefore, there is no inadmissibility issue. Be careful using exceptions as, very often, you must make sure the law would otherwise apply and you may end up doing a lot of work for nothing. While I have attempted to provide a complete list, please be advised that you should read each of these sections carefully to fully understand the grounds, waivers, exceptions. For example, although 212(d)(3) is generally available as a waiver for non-immigrants, the likelihood of it being available in reality could be drastically limited based upon the ground for inadmissibility and your particular circumstances. There is no substitute for speaking with a knowledgeable attorney to help analyze your case.

As you can clearly see, there are many related categories and the ten most common are provided below. There are also some miscellaneous grounds for inadmissibility relating to students, etc. that are not discussed. 

INA §212(a) Inadmissibility Section Ground Waiver for Immigrant Visas Waiver for Non-Immigrant Visas Exception
212(a)(1) Communicable Diseases 212(g) 212(g);212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(1)(A)(ii) Lacking Vaccinations 212(g) 212(g);212(d)(3) 212(a)(1)(C)
212(a)(1)(A)(iii) Physical or Mental Disorder 212(g) 212(g);212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(1)(A)(iv) Drug Abuser/Drug Addict NA 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I) Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude 212(h) 212(h);212(d)(3) 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)
212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) Drug Crimes 212(h) – Marijuana 212(h);212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(2)(B) Multiple Criminal Convictions 212(h) 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(2)(C) Controlled Substance Traffickers and Their Families NA 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(2)(D) Prostitution 212(h) 212(d)(3)
212(a)(2)(E) Asserted Immunity from Prosecution 212(h) 212(d)(3)
212(a)(2)(G) Foreign Government Officials Committing Severe Violent Crimes NA 212(d)(3)
212(a)(2)(H) Significant Traffickers and Their Families NA 212(d)(3) 212(a)(2)(H)(iii)
212(a)(2)(I) Money Launderer NA 212(d)(3)
212(a)(3)(A)(i) Espionage, Sabotage, Prohibited Export Law Violators NA NA NA
212(a)(3)(A)(ii) Unlawful Activity Related to Security NA NA NA
212(a)(3)(A)(iii) Overthrow of the U.S.Government NA NA NA
212(a)(3)(B) Terrorist Activities 212(d)(3)(B) 212(d)(3) 212(a)(3)(B)(ii)
212(a)(3)(C) Adverse Foreign Policy Consequences NA NA 212(a)(3)(C)(ii) and (iii)
212(a)(3)(D) Membership in Totalitarian Party 212(a)(3)(D)(ii) and (iii) 212(d)(3) 212 (a)(3)(D)(ii) and (iii)
212(a)(3)(E)(i) Nazi Party Member NA NA NA
212(a)(3)(E)(ii) Genocide NA NA NA
212(a)(4) Public Charge 213 and 221(g) 212(d)(3) and 221(g) See 212(S)
212(a)(5)(A) Labor Certification 212(k)/NA 212(d)(3)/N/A 212(a)(5)(A)(i)
212(a)(5)(B) Unqualified Physicians NA NA 212(a)(5)(B)
212(a)(5)(C) Uncertified Health Care Workers 212(r) 212(d)(3) 212(a)(5)(C)
212(a)(6)(A) Aliens Present without Admission or Parole (EWI) – Note – ONLY APPLIES WHILE IN THEUSA NA NA VAWA (Note – VAWA Applies in Many, Many Cases and is Referenced As an Aside Due to Its Importance for These Cases
212(a)(6)(B) Failure to Attend Removal Proceedings NA 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(6)(C) Misrepresentation 212(a)(i); 237(a)(1)(H) 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(6)(C)(ii) False Claims to US Citizenship – Watch Out for I-9s NA 212(d)(3) 212(a)(6)(C)(ii)
212(a)(6)(D) Stowaways 208: Asylum NA NA
212(a)(6)(E) Smugglers 212(d)(11) 212(d)(11) 212(a)(6)(E)(ii)
212(a)(6)(F) Civil Penalty under INA 247C 212(d)(12) 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(6)(G) Student Visa Abusers NA 212(d)(3) NA
212(a)(7)(A) Documentation Requirement for Immigrants 211 NA
212(a)(7)(B) Documentation Requirements for Nonimmigrants NA 212(d)(4)
212(a)(8)(A) Ineligible for citizenship under INA 314 or 315 NA NA NA
212(a)(8)(B) Draft Evaders Pardons 212(d)(3) 212(a)(8)(B)
(a)(9)(A)(i) and (ii) Ordered Removed Upon Arrival NA 212(d)(3) 212(a)(9)(A)(iii)
212(a)(9)(B) Unlawful Presence See Exceptions – Waivers are Available 212(d)(3) 212(a)(9)(B)(iii), (iv) and (v) (see v for waiver)
212(a)(9)(C) Unlawful Presence After Prior Immigration Violation See Exception 212(d)(3) (a)(9)(C)(ii) and (iii)
212(a)(10)(A) Immigrant Polygamists NA NA NA
212(a)(10)(B) Guardian Accompanying Inadmissible Helpless Child NA NA NA
212(a)(10)(C) International Child Abduction Exceptions 212(d)(3) 212(a)(10)(c)(iii)

Anyone reading this is also well advised to review the basis for Asylum (INA §208), Cancellation of Removal (INA §240), and Adjustment of Status (INA §245). Just because you are inadmissible does not mean there is no relief available to you.

-Drake Shunneson (copyright 2012).

At Shunneson Law Office, we are dedicated to helping you with your immigration problems. Contact us to schedule a consultation. Located in Lake County, Illinois, with meeting locations throughout Chicago, we have the ability to meet with you at any convenient Chicagoland location from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. However, evening and weekend appointments are available upon request by calling 847.693.9120.

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