It's Still Easy to Be Refused Entry to the U.S. as a Terrorist -- But Not as Easy as Before

DHS and DOS create exceptions to the terrorism-based ground of inadmissibility.

No, the U.S. isn't going soft on terrorism. But a portion of the U.S. immigration law that made people inadmissible -- that is, ineligible for a visa, green card, or other form of entry -- because they have links with terrorism is so broad that it could easily cover people who haven't a terrorist thought in their head.

Let's say someone gave their visiting cousin a glass of water after his day of military training, for example -- could that person be "supporting" a terrorist organization, and thus be inadmissible to the U.S. under the law? It's possible. (See "Terrorism and Other Security Violations That Make U.S. Visa or Green Card Applicants Inadmissible" for details on what the law says.)

That's why it's a welcome relief to immigration attorneys that the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State have issued some clarifying guidelines. These create exceptions for people who were engaging in routine commercial or social transactions, providing humanitarian assistance, or were under substantial pressure, if such people can also satisfy a long list of criteria described in the Federal Register at FR Doc. 2014-02357.

Again, this isn't going to be easy. The person must still be fully eligible for the visa, green card or other benefit; pass background checks; have fully disclosed the nature of their association with any terrorist organization; not have provided any of a number of types of material support to terrorists; and not pose any threat to U.S. safety or security. But it at least reduces the possibility that some deserving applicants will be tainted by the slightest of associations.