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Apr 11, 2006
Admitting Drug Use Could Result in a Lifetime Ban
- Atty. Michael Gurfinkel Email this article

Many Filipinos consulted with me regarding the same problem: their visa was denied by the U.S. Embassy because they admitted to the doctors at St. Luke’s that they had, years ago, smoked marijuana or used some other drug.  At their visa interview, they are shocked to find that their visa is being refused, with the annotation “you have admitted to committing acts which constitute a controlled substance violation - no waiver.”


In one case, a 29-year-old nurse had been recruited for a job in a U.S. hospital.  During visa processing, she was asked a very routine question: “Have you smoked marijuana or taken any controlled substance?”  The nurse said that she had “tasted” marijuana once during a party when she was 18 years old.  It was just a harmless “try”, done out of curiosity.  Her visa was denied, and she was banned for life.


Another person was a middle-aged man, said he tried marijuana two or three times when he was a teenager.  His visa application was likewise denied.  This man, who was petitioned by his U.S. citizen parents, had waited for more than 10 years for his priority date to be current.  But now he was being told he would never go to the U.S.


None of these people had ever been charged with, or convicted of, any drug-related crime.  They merely admitted that they tried or tasted marijuana or other drug during their younger days.


Under U.S. immigration laws, a person is inadmissible (not eligible for a visa) if they have ever been convicted of, or admitted having violated any law of any country relating to a controlled substance.  As the law states, “Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of . . . a violation of . . . any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance . . . is inadmissible.”  Marijuana is considered a “controlled substance.” Therefore, if you smoked (or “used”) Marijuana, you may have violated a law relating to a controlled substance.


It may seem that U.S. immigration laws were harsh in the case of the nurse and middle-aged man, who had merely tried marijuana out of curiosity many years ago.  But, the use of Marijuana in the Philippines is against the law, and admitting marijuana use was enough for the Embassy to refuse the visas under Section 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II).  This was the case even though they never used marijuana again, and blood tests would never reveal the use of drugs or Marijuana.  But they admitted to having smoked Marijuana, which could be a violation of a law relating to a controlled substance.  And now they had to suffer the consequences.  (The Embassy was only following and enforcing the law, in refusing the visas.)


Therefore, it is my strong advice to anyone who is under petition that you do not take any drugs, or you could jeopardize your coming to America. The U.S. Government is taking a very tough stance against people who use drugs or violate drug laws.




Michael  J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 25 years, and is an active member of the State Bar of California and New York, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Immigration Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.  He has always excelled in school:  Valedictorian in High School; Cum Laude at UCLA; and Law Degree Honors and academic scholar at Loyola Law School, which is one of the top law schools in California. 




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(This is for informational purposes only, and reflects the firm's opinions and views on general issues.  Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of a particular case. All immigration services are provided by an active member of the State Bar of California and/or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar.  No prediction, warranty or guarantee can be made about the results of any case.  Should you need or want legal advice, you should consult with and retain counsel of your own choice.)


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