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Understanding the Difference Between Inadmissibility and Deportability in U.S. Immigration Law

May 7, 2024 | immigration, removal, Waivers


In U.S. immigration law, there are two key concepts that govern the entry and presence of foreign nationals in the country: inadmissibility and deportability.

While both relate to the ability of an individual to enter or remain in the United States, they differ in their application and consequences.

Let’s explore the differences between these two concepts:


Inadmissibility refers to the status of an individual who is not permitted to enter the United States or is ineligible to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

Reasons for Inadmissibility

There are numerous grounds for inadmissibility, including, but not limited to:

1. Health-related grounds
2. Criminal history
3. Security reasons
4. Fraud or misrepresentation
5. Public charge (i.e., likely to become dependent on government assistance)
6. Unlawful presence in the United States

Consequences of Inadmissibility

Individuals who are found inadmissible may be denied entry to the United States or have their applications for adjustment of status denied.

In some cases, waivers may be available to overcome certain grounds of inadmissibility.


Deportability, also known as removal, refers to the status of an individual who is already in the United States but is subject to being removed from the country.

Reasons for Deportability

There are several grounds for deportability, including:

1. Unlawful presence in the United States
2. Violation of immigration status or terms of admission
3. Criminal convictions
4. Fraud or misrepresentation
5. Security-related grounds

Consequences of Deportability

Individuals who are found deportable may be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

If ordered removed, they may be physically removed from the United States and barred from reentering for a certain period of time.

Key Differences between Inadmissibility and Deportability

Timing: Inadmissibility applies to individuals seeking entry to the United States or adjusting status, while deportability applies to individuals already present in the country.

Grounds: The grounds for inadmissibility and deportability are similar but not identical. Some grounds are specific to one category.

Consequences: Inadmissibility may result in denial of entry or adjustment of status, while deportability may lead to removal from the United States.


Understanding the difference between inadmissibility and deportability is crucial for navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration law.

If you are facing either situation, it is advisable to seek legal counsel to explore your options and potential remedies.

Ruchi Thaker