Waivers of Inadmissibility for Asylees and Refugees

In order for an asylee or refugee to adjust status, he or she must be admissible to the United States. Furthermore, a refugee must be admissible to the United States at the time of admission. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) contains a generous waiver of inadmissibility provision for asylee and refugee applicants for adjustment of status. In this article, we will focus on the relevant statutes, regulations, and other administrative guidance in order to explain the waiver of inadmissibility provision for asylees and refugees in section 209(c) of the INA.


Historically, the United States is a country of immigrants. Established by immigrants and developed by immigrants the USA has enjoyed both substantial benefits as well as serious setbacks associated with immigration into the country. This dichotomy eventually led to the need to determine who should be allowed to enter and stay in the USA. Congress enacted a number of laws to regulate the immigration process.

Permanent Bar - overview

In addition to the 3 and 10-year bars of inadmissibility for accruing unlawful presence in the United States, there is a more stringent bar of inadmissibility stemming from unlawful presence that is commonly called the “permanent bar.” The permanent bar of inadmissibility stems from accruing at least one year of unlawful presence in the United States and then subsequently attempting to reenter or reentering the United States without inspection. As its name suggests, the permanent bar is a far more daunting bar to inadmissibility than the 3 or 10-year bars.

Inadmissibility on Health-Related Grounds

Prior to entering the United States in an immigrant status, or seeking adjustment of status (AOS) in the United States, all applicants for admission undergo a health screening. This screening, required under INA §212(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, is intended to deem certain aliens with medical diseases — such as certain types of cancer, organ failure and before recently (2009) — HIV — inadmissible from entry into the United States.

Lawful Admission

Lawful admission to the United States is rather important and, one would argue, fundamental concept of the U.S. immigration law because it rests on the historical foundation — the exclusive right of a sovereign country to control its borders. That right inevitably includes deciding who is allowed to enter into the country.