One of the ways that immigration applicants can be inadmissible to the United States is by presenting a real or perceived threat to immigration authorities—namely the USCIS. Security is a broad discipline and topic of discussion, so this blog will be dedicated to better understanding security in terms of U.S. immigration, and what to expect in green card interviews and disclosing sensitive information on applications and in person.
First off, we should touch on the INA—The Immigration and Nationality Act. This is the guiding rulebook for who can be admitted into the United States based on several criteria. Even though the Act might have been passed in 1965, many of America’s security interests haven’t changed, and even though the INA has been amended many times, there are many constants of immigration law that have persisted over the years and remain critically important and enforceable by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The section in this rather long document that pertains to security and admissibility is titled 1182. The first sentence of this chapter basically states all of the criteria for non-citizens who are inadmissible or ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States. If you scroll down the list of items, you will arrive at the “Security and Related Grounds” section, which discusses the ways that an immigration applicant can be barred from entering the United States because one of the following reasons:
- The applicant represents a security threat to the U.S. by representing or speaking on behalf of a terrorist organization
- The applicant is seeking to evade laws prohibiting the exports of certain goods from the United States
- The applicant is seeking to export sensitive information to other countries and therefore engage in a form of espionage
- The applicant is seeking to export technology information to another country and therefore violating intellectual property laws
- The applicant was either willingly or unwillingly involved in a terrorist organization or was a terrorist sympathizer
Processing and Interviews
The above list shows that there are many different aspects to U.S. security that affect U.S. immigration and therefore the decision making process of immigration applications. Further, consular officers don’t necessarily have to ask applicants any of the above questions verbatim. They can imply the way an applicant answers a question if the applicant is a potential security threat. Therefore it is important for applicants, whether they are based in the U.S. or abroad, to read up on all of the different security related threats in the INA, or through different immigration resources online.
Green card interviews in particular can test an applicant to see if they hold any loyalties or have ever colluded with a terrorist organization. The officer might start out by asking the applicant if they are apart of any clubs, memberships, or organizations that are outside of the United States. The question is broad, and so an immigration applicant should understand that what the officer is really asking is if the applicant has ever been in contact with or part of an organization that represents a threat to U.S. security. In a similar fashion, this is how immigration officers often get applicants to admit they have unknowingly aided a family member in entering the U.S. illegally.
Regardless of the type of question being asked during the green card interview, applicants always need to be mindful of the U.S. security dimension, as it is a clear way for immigration officers to deny or reject an application altogether. The reason stems from the fact that officers don’t want to be accountable for admitting someone who later goes on to represent a security threat while residing in the United States.