December 4, 2023

Immigration Green Card

Immigration Is Good For You

Arrest for drug crime makes immigrant visa unlikely

2 min read

Q. I was deported more than 30 years ago for carrying weed into the United States. Any chance I can get a visa to travel back to the United States?


A. With your record, your chances of getting a nonimmigrant visa, like a tourist visa, are slim but possible. Based on what you write, it is unlikely that you will ever qualify for an immigrant visa.

Immigration laws bar most individuals who have committed drug-related crimes, from getting an immigrant visa — a green card. The exception is for certain individuals whose conviction was for a single conviction of simple possession of marijuana. If you have two marijuana possession convictions or the government has “reason to believe” you were involved in drug trafficking, the law permanently bars you from getting a green card.

The law provides a general waiver for all “inadmissibility” grounds except for individuals who are a threat to national security. If you have a clear record of rehabilitation, you might convince a U.S. consular officer to grant you a nonimmigrant visa given that 30 years have passed since your deportation.

Q. I am in the United States, working here on an H-2B temporary visa. Can my wife and daughter come stay with me during my lawful stay here?


A. The law allows for the spouse and unmarried children to come to the United States to be with an H-2B temporary worker. Given that H-2B status is granted in one-year intervals only, your family will need to prove very strong ties to their home country to get a consular officer to grant them visas.

Immigration grants H-2B status to temporary, nonprofessional, non-agricultural workers. For a worker to get an H-2B visa, an employer must prove that no qualified U.S. worker is available to fill the position.

The law limits how many H-2B workers can get visas each year, making them hard to get. That’s despite low-unemployment and our country’s desperate need for service and other workers. Often these jobs are seasonal; for example, workers in the service industry here for the summer season. While your family can apply for visas now, they may have a better chance if they apply the next time you apply for yours.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Email questions and comments to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @awernick.


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