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legal marijuana impact on immigration

Legal Marijuana Can Hurt an Immigrant's Chances of Becoming a US Citizen

We know immigrants have legally smoked marijuana in the United States and been denied US citizenship because of it. Too many immigrants are trapped between state and federal marijuana laws. The federal agency responsible for processing citizenship and visa request is the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They will reject an immigrant who admits to using marijuana in a state where it is legal or working in the marijuana industry.

USCIS Criteria

This government agency has drug use as part of its criteria to determine if an immigrant applying for US citizenship is of good moral character and can be permitted to remain in the United States. The denials by the USCIS based on the legal use of marijuana have taken place most often in Washington and Colorado. These two states were the first to make recreational marijuana legal. According to the USCIS, the denials are based on federal law. Under these laws, marijuana is categorized as a prohibited substance. This is the same situation with ecstasy or LSD.

USCIS Investigation

There are many different ways the USCIS can discover if a person has used drugs. It is common for them to take a straightforward approach. They will ask an immigrant during an interview or on an application if they have broken any laws or abused drugs. An immigration law attorney had a client who was married to an American citizen and placed himself at risk for deportation during an interview with an immigration officer. The immigrant was asked if he had ever used marijuana. He responded by saying he had tried it in the past at parties since it was legal in Washington DC, but he did not like it. Simply making this statement to an immigration officer resulted in the man being declared to be permanently inadmissible. The immigrant was denied a green card and may be deported.

Health Examination

The use of drugs can be discussed during the health examination that is mandatory for green-card applicants. A physician conducting the examination can require a drug test for many different reasons. This includes extended gaps between school and employment, a history of illegal substance abuse, psychological or physical signs of a person having a problem with drugs and more.

Employment In The Marijuana Industry

The USCIS will use employment with a company that has a cannabis-related name against an immigrant. Someone working as a secretary or accountant for an individual in the cannabis industry can be determined to be involved with trafficking a controlled substance by the USCIS. It is not uncommon for an Immigration law attorney to get a minimum of a case a week for someone denied eligibility for US citizenship because they were employed by a cannabis company. The USCIS has also prevented the spouses of immigrants to receive benefits if they worked at a cannabis dispensary. Maney Gordon Zeller is an attorney who can help immigrants with the USCIS.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) recommends non-citizens not leave their house with marijuana and such things as any paraphernalia, clothes with marijuana imagery, a medical marijuana card and more. Should anyone have been denied immigration status because marijuana, they should contact Maney Gordon Zeller. We know how to gather the facts of a case and provide you the best possible legal outcome.

Call (800) 708-4399 today for more information, or to speak with our team over a free consultation.