Eight Ways to Get Denied, Banned, Detained or Deported from the U.S.

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These Common Immigration Mistakes Will Keep Your Feet Off U.S. Soil

A variety of circumstances can lead to a visa or green card denial, banning from the U.S., or deportation. Here are eight avoidable immigration mistakes you need to know about.

Immigration Mistake #1: Break the Law, or Become a Suspect

If you have had any trouble with the law, you may be:

a) Denied a visa or entry at ports and borders, if you have a criminal record in any country, or criminal charges pending outside the U.S.;

b) Detained in a U.S. jail if you have broken (or are suspected of breaking) a U.S. or international law;

c) Banned from entering the U.S. for a stipulated number of years, or forever, because of criminal convictions abroad or in the States;

d) Deported from the U.S. if you are found guilty of a "crime of moral turpitude," or extradited if you face serious criminal charges abroad.

Immigration Mistake #2: Misrepresent Long-Term Reasons for Coming to the U.S.

When you apply for a visa, you must intend to use that visa for its official purpose. If you come to the U.S. as a visitor, intending to seek work or marry, that's immigration fraud. In any case of misrepresentation you may be;

a) Denied U.S. entry, a visa, a green card or citizenship;

b) Detained at the border or port of entry;

c) Banned from the U.S.;

d) Deported if you fail to leave on your own when ordered to.

Entering with one intent, and later changing your mind is not illegal. But, for example, if you enter on a visitor visa and get married a week later, that is going to be highly suspect: Immigration officials will likely believe that you planned this all along, that it was not a spontaneous change of plans.

Immigration Mistake #3: Express Hostile Anti-American Sentiments

If you express hostile anti-American sentiments;
if you are vocally sympathetic towards terrorist groups; or,
if you are suspected of being violent or smuggling drugs, you could be:

a) Denied entry to a U.S.-bound flight, or to the U.S. upon arrival;

b) Banned from future entries to the U.S.;

c) Detained in a U.S. jail indefinitely if you are suspected of having terrorist ties;

d) Deported if the U.S. government determines that you are a danger to its citizens.

Just be aware that post 9/11/01, even seemingly harmless jokes about terrorism could lead to a lot of unnecessary questioning and stress. Use common sense. No bomb jokes. Unless of course you really are a criminal, in which case, please flaunt it.

Immigration Mistake #4: Enter the U.S. Illegally

If you have ever entered the U.S. by sneaking over the border or stowing away, you cannot gain legal status unless you a) marry a U.S. citizen and prove the relationship is legitimate, or b) the government grants you amnesty, refugee or asylum status.

If you enter the U.S. on a Crewman's Visa, fail to depart with your vessel, and then remain in the U.S., not even marriage to a U.S. citizen will make you legal. Only a government amnesty or waiver would help you. You'd want to consult a lawyer.

Illegal crossers could be:

a) Denied a future visa or green card;

b) Banned from re-entering the U.S. for 5-10 years;

c) Detained within the U.S. for a removal hearing; and/or,

d) Deported if caught living in the States, even years later.

Immigration Mistake #5: Overstay Your Visa and I-94

If you stay in the U.S. longer than your Visa, I-94 and/or grace period (180 days after expiration) allow, you face:

a) Future denial of visas;

b) Bans from re-entry;

c) Detention and deportation as an illegal alien, unless you:

  • Marry a U.S. citizen, based on a genuine, existing relationship and have a sponsor who will sign and qualify for an Affidavit of Support;

  • Are granted a waiver for extenuating circumstances; or,

  • Manage to qualify for Temporary Protected Status, Asylum or Refugee Status.
  • Immigration Mistake #6: Enter the U.S. Very Contagious, or Pregnant

    If you arrive in the U.S. with a serious contagious illness, such as Tuberculosis, you may be:

    a) Denied entry; or,

    b) Detained in quarantine.

    Pregnancy's not an illness, but it does fall under "Health." So if you're pregnant, you may be:

    a) Denied a visa or U.S. entry as student, worker or exchange visitor.

    b) Denied if you're from a country with excessive illegal immigration to the U.S. or

    c) Denied if you enter the U.S. in your third trimester. (Why? Babies born in the U.S. are automatic citizens and the government tries to prevent visitors from taking advantage of this.)

    As an aside, airlines will often refuse very pregnant women just because flight attendants prefer not to deliver babies at 30,000 feet.

    Immigration Mistake #7: Lie on Your Application

    Lying about anything on any visa, green card or citizenship application can result in:

    a) Denial;

    b) A ban; or,

    c) Deportation

    The lies taken most seriously aside from intent include those related to criminal records, war crimes, negative political affiliations and terrorist ties. But any lie can be used against you. If you're afraid that the truth will have serious consequences, consult an attorney before you apply.

    Immigration Mistake #8: Fail to Keep the USCIS Informed

    Since 9/11 the USCIS has been more diligent about keeping track of:

  • B and waiver Visitors;
  • M and F Students;
  • Temporary Workers;
  • Adjustment of Status applicants;
  • Green Card holders here for fewer than 10 years; and,
  • Sponsors of those Green Card Holders
    If the USCIS is unable to verify your status or reach you:

    a) Your application could be denied; or,

    b) Your visa revoked, which could ultimately lead to:

    c) Detention, future denials and bans or deportation for being an illegal alien.

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