Immigration law is very complicated and the consequences of making mistakes can be very serious. If your family member is in the United States without legal status and you file an application for a green card that is improper, they could be at risk of deportation. A green card can also be denied as a matter of discretion if there is evidence that your relative has engaged in certain types of bad behavior.
There are many reasons why someone could be declared deportable or inadmissible to the US and denied a green card. If one of these reasons applies to the applicant and that person is in the US, they may even be deported. Here are a few of the common reasons:
- Health related issues: Certain medical and psychological conditions can make a person inadmissible to the US. These may include conditions where a person is a danger to him or herself or others, and may include alcohol or drug addiction.
- Criminal convictions: The immigration rules for people with criminal convictions are very complicated. For more information, see How does being charged with a crime affect immigration?
- Prior deportation orders: Note that even some relatively brief stops of persons trying to enter the US without authorization might be considered to be a deportation. If a person who has been deported enters or attempts to enter the US illegally, they will be permanently ineligible for a green card through family.
- Unlawful presence: If a person was previously in the US without lawful status for more than 180 days but less than one year and then left the US, they will be inadmissible for 3 years from the date of departure from the United States. Persons who were in the US without status for more than one year will be inadmissible for 10 years from the date of departure from the United States. These are called the 3 and 10 year bars. If someone enters or attempts to enter the US. illegally after triggering the 10 year bar, they will be permanently ineligible for a green card through family. Also, depending on the type of family relationship, your relative may have to consular process if they are unlawfully present in the US at the time that a visa becomes available.
- Voting: Non-citizens are ineligible to vote in US elections. Registering to vote and illegal voting are grounds for denial of a green card and deportation.
- False claims to US citizenship: Using a false US birth certificate to work or checking a box on a mortgage or driver's license application claiming to be a US citizen or knowingly claiming in any other way to be a US citizen is grounds for denial of a green card and deportation.
- Smuggling: Helping any person including your child to enter the US without permission is grounds for denial of a green card and deportation.
- Terrorism: There are many things that can be considered terrorism under immigration law. For example, a person can be denied a green card and deported if they have ever supported any group that has ever engaged in violence, even if it is not officially designated as a terrorist organization. This could include small donations, handing out flyers, helping set up meetings, or even cooking food.
These are just a few of the deportation or inadmissibility reasons that could apply to your family member.
My relative is deportable or inadmissible
If your family has any doubts about whether it is a good idea to file a green card application, you should consult a lawyer or Department of Justice Accredited Representative.