A non-US citizen is not admissible to the US if they fit one of the following categories:
- The individual has been convicted of violating a law relating to a controlled substance
- The individual admitted to violating a law relating to a controlled substance
- The individual is known to have been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance
- There is reason to believe the individual has been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance
- The individual received a financial benefit from a spouse or parent who is an illicit trafficker
Not all drugs are considered a controlled substance, only those included on the federal list of controlled substances, which can be found at 21 USC 802. For this reason, it is possible for a state-controlled substance violation to not be considered a controlled substance violation for immigration purposes in certain circumstances.
Note that a conviction is not necessary and an individual seeking admission to the US may be denied the benefit if the officer knows or has reason to belief that the individual is or has been an illicit trafficker in any controlled substance. This is used to deny applications for admission by individuals that have been arrested for a violation of a law relating to a controlled substance regardless of the outcome of the case. Let’s consider the following situation:
Esteban is traveling to the US with a tourist visa. At the airport in Orlando, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer finds out that Esteban was arrested during a prior trip to the US and charged with trafficking in a controlled substance in federal court. The charges in Esteban’s case were dismissed.
The CBP officer can still determine that the arrest was enough to give him a reason to believe that Esteban has been an illicit trafficker in a controlled substance and deny him admission to the US.
Determining whether a crime is a controlled substance violation requires a careful analysis of immigration law, criminal law, and court opinions. It is very important that anyone that has been charged or convicted of, or has admitted to committing, or could be suspected of having committed a crime that could potentially be a controlled substance violation, meet with an experienced attorney to discuss their options.
Contact Attorney Evelyn today to discuss any immigration issues you may be experiencing.