Under federal law, it has long been illegal to possess, purchase, sell, or use marijuana. Over the past 6 years, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both. This is causing confusion and havoc in the immigrant community. The Trump administration has made it a priority to punish anyone with even a tangential relationship to the marijuana industry.
Today, USCIS made a formal revision to their field manual that prohibits a finding of good moral character for any person who cannot prove that they did not commit a controlled substance offense (including marijuana) during the statutory period (usually five years before submitting your application). Good moral character is a requirement for naturalization (becoming a citizen).
In addition to having problems with naturalization, immigrants who work for the marijuana industry or who used, possessed, or purchased marijuana (at any time) are not eligible to become permanent residents of the U.S. Any controlled substance offense (no exceptions) will prevent a person from becoming a permanent resident of the United States. Any controlled substance offense (except simple possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use) will make a person deportable from the United States. Such an offense also could prevent a lawful permanent resident from being allowed to return to the United States after travel abroad.
A controlled substance offense includes informally admitting that you have used, possessed, or purchased marijuana for personal use during the time it has been legal in Colorado. It also includes working in the legal marijuana industry in Colorado. USCIS does not require a conviction to make this finding and it does not require a formal admission to committing all of the elements of the offense. This is contrary to binding case law, which requires a non-citizen to admit to committing all of the elements of the offense, to be a binding legal admission. In short, if you are not a citizen of the United States, it not worth risking your future in the United States. Do not use, possess, purchase, sell, or having anything to do with the marijuana industry.
If you or a loved one has questions about your case and how to become a permanent resident or citizen of the United States, please call our office to make a consultation. You will be scheduled to meet with an experienced immigration attorney.
On December 21, 2018, EOIR Director McHenry published PM 19-08, “Acceptance of Notices to Appear and Use of the Interactive Scheduling System.” That memo instructed immigration courts to “reject any…
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