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Drug use can lead to visa denials

The current administration is using many different reasons to prevent visitors from entering the U.S. One that has not gotten a lot of coverage is casual drug use. According to one recent report, a visitor from Britain arriving at LAX was denied entry after 24 hours of questioning and a search that yielded a two-year-old phone text that mentioned cocaine. The visitor who had planned the trip of a lifetime, spending one month in Los Angeles and one in New York City was sent home after admitting to drug use.

Lawbreaking is a premise for denial

Even though this was a woman traveling from Britain, the denial was consistent with how U.S. border authorities handle other similar cases. The law states that visitors can be denied entry if they were charged with using illegal controlled substances, or, in the case of the British woman, admitted to illegal use of controlled substances.

Suspicious activity

It is hard to say why the women was singled out for such extreme measures for interviewing, but the officials were likely suspicious of the long stay as an excuse for coming into the country to work illegally. They searched her phone, looking for evidence of seeking work but, instead, found references to drugs.

Visitors have fewer protections

It should be no surprise to those who follow immigration law stories, but potential visitors do not enjoy the same rights that protect citizens. Border officials have broad discretion for going through visitors belongings, including their phone. Even if she lied and denied the drug use, likely, they would still see red flags and deny entrance. Other drug-related materials that are grounds for denial are drug paraphernalia or vaping equipment or used vials with residue in them.

In regards to marijuana use, it is essential to remember that marijuana is against federal law, despite being legal for casual consumption in California and ten other states. The border agents may even deny entrance to those who work in the marijuana industry (and admit to it), despite it being legal in Canada or other countries.

Careful before entering the U.S.

Stories such as these are cautionary tales for those who plan to enter the U.S. for work or to visit. Those planning to come are advised to be careful about what they bring and be mindful of messages on their devices or social media.

An experienced immigration law attorney will often remind the client to take such precautions, and they can be a tremendous asset with visa applications to ensure that the client’s application has the best chance for approval.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber