How Alcohol Abuse Can Affect Your Immigration Status


The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are putting more emphasis on alcohol and drug use when dealing with immigration processes. Applicants must be aware of how their criminal, medical, and personal backgrounds affect their eligibility for immigration. 

You risk being deported or denied a green card if you use drugs or alcohol. Note that each person’s situation is unique. Sometimes, being deemed inadmissible or deportable does not need a criminal conviction. In other cases, a criminal defendant can maintain their immigration prospects by pleading guilty to a felony drug trafficking charge. Visit this

to learn more about alcohol abuse in immigration law. 

Here we’ll cover some common ways drugs and alcohol impact immigration status.

How Can Alcohol Abuse Affect Your Immigration Status

Inquiries concerning problematic drug and alcohol use, psychological conditions, and risky behavior are common during an immigrant medical screening. Physical or mental problems associated with unlawful conduct toward oneself, others, or property are the grounds for determining whether a visa application is admissible to the United States. 

One such mental illness is alcoholism. However, a ruling of inadmissibility cannot be made solely based on alcohol misuse. There must also be a related dangerous behavior, such as drunk driving.

 Alcohol and drug use can have three main effects on immigration status: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Criminal convictions
  • Criminal association. 

Drug Addict or Alcoholic

A green card or entry into the United States may be denied to immigration applicants who confess to using drugs or alcohol for self-harm. A USCIS or consular officer will contact a civil surgeon to conduct a medical examination on the applicant. If the immigration physician determines the candidate is a dangerous alcoholic or drug addict, their green card or visa application will be rejected. Although it can result in detrimental behavior, drunkenness is not a specific reason for rejection. Never discuss your chronic drug or alcohol use or openly acknowledge it to anyone.

Even if a person has earned residency, alcohol abuse may result in deportation. ICE agents will search social media for indications of drug abuse or admission through Drug Court Programs.

Criminal Convictions

If a person is convicted of, acknowledges, or admits to committing the crucial elements of breaking the law about a controlled substance, they are ineligible for admission. Only situations involving less than 30 grams of marijuana qualify for a time-consuming waiver. 

It should be noted that conviction is not a prerequisite for inadmissibility. A further ground is admitting to drug possession. Moreover, federal rather than state law is the legal foundation for the drug possession basis of inadmissibility. Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, even if permitted in several states and nations globally. This ground of inadmissibility relates to activities involving restricted substances, such as the use of drug accessories, trafficking, and money laundering. 

Deportation laws for drug-related offenses are slightly different. A conviction for a crime involving an illicit substance, as outlined by federal law, is required before someone can be deported. A single conviction for marijuana possession involving 30 grams or less is an exception. Possession, trafficking, misbranding, adulteration, and selling prohibited substances are among the offenses for which one might be found guilty. Many diversionary programs in various jurisdictions could also count as convictions under immigration statutes.

Drug Association

Immigration law punishes anyone associated with drug trafficking activity or financial gains from obtaining a visa or green card or entering the United States. This holds whether they have been convicted of a crime or have admitted to committing one. 

Therefore, consular officials need “a compelling reason to believe” that an immigration application is connected to drug use or financial gain. According to this clause, immigration authorities may use any evidence, including information from a criminal prosecution that was withdrawn, disregarded, or in which an immigrant proved not guilty. There are countless types of proof, including financial records, elegant and expensive purchases, family members’ affiliation with drug groups, and more. Family members who ignore drug trafficking activity are subject to punishment under this law.


Because of the complexities of immigration law, it is critical to hire an experienced immigration lawyer. They can assist you with anything regarding a controlled substance, whether you’ve been charged, accused, or denied a visa. Even if you are convicted, a well-crafted defense can save your future and immigration benefits.