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Drug Crime and Visa Status

Can a drug crime affect your visa status? The simple answer is yes, but it is much more complicated than that. It is important to consider two things. First is the kind of drug crime you have committed, like whether it is merely possession for personal use or distribution. Second is your visa status, like whether you are in the United States as a legal resident (green card holder) or not.

Simple drug crimes

No matter how simple your drug crime is, it will still affect your immigration status. If you are already in the United States legally, you can lose your green card, and therefore be removed from the country. If you are still trying to get visa, your visa will be denied.

There is also such a thing as Waiver of Inadmissibility, wherein a person is pardoned of a crime for immigration purposes, so he or she can remain in the U.S. or be allowed entry or return. But the government is very strict on waivers when it comes to drug crimes, unless the crimes are simple in nature, like marijuana possession for personal use.

Serious drug crimes

A criminal conviction is always bad news for your visa status, but some convictions are worse than others. This is particularly true for crimes of moral turpitude, also known as CIMT.

Whether you are in the U.S. lawfully or not, you can be deported because of a criminal conviction, especially if it is a CIMT. This can happen in two ways. First, this can happen if you have committed a CIMT within 5 years of your admission to the U.S. Second, this can happen if you have committed at least two CIMTs that did not happen in a single scheme.

Drug crimes, particularly distribution and trafficking, are considered CIMTs.


According to the website of William Jang, PLLC, immigrating to the United States can be extraordinarily difficult, as there is a wide range of different options that can be confusing to navigate. It is sad that going through this process or after going through this process, that you will just be deported.

This just shows how crimes can complicate things, particularly serious crimes like drug trafficking. The website of James Powderly mentions that drug crimes can be defended. So, at least there is a way to minimize penalties and possible consequences of drug crimes, especially if the charges are just overblown.

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