US Immigration: Lawfully Admitted

The term “lawfully admitted” into the United States is an important term in U.S. immigration law. A person who has been lawfully admitted are accorded more benefits than individuals who entered the United States without inspection. Those who are lawfully admitted are provided benefits such as additional rights in removal proceedings, the right to adjust status for permanent residency, and other forms of immigration relief.

There are four types of “admissions” under Immigration and Nationalization Act:

  1. Waived Through
    When a noncitizen is “waived through”, the noncitizen must physically present themselves for inspection, makes no false claim to U.S. citizenship, and the officer allows the noncitizen to enter the United States. Many people are waived though without being asked questions by the officer.

    In the Matter of Areguillin, 17 I&N Dec. 308 (BIA 1980), Ms. Argeuillin, who had no entry documents, was waive though without questions by an officer. The Board of Immigration Appeals found that she was inspected when she physically presented herself and was admitted when the office communicated the admission either though a verbal or physical gesture.

  2. Entry as a Result of Fraud or Misrepresentation (Other than False Claim to Citizenship)
    When a noncitizen is admitted as a result of fraud or misrepresentation (other than false claim to citizenship), the noncitizen is deemed to have been inspected and admitted. While the noncitizen is “lawfully admitted” and may adjust status, they can also be removed from the United States if they are charged with misrepresentation at the time of admission.

    In Emokah, 523 F.3d 118 (2d. Cir. 2008), a noncitizen misrepresented a material fact to obtain a nonimmigrant visa used to enter the United States. The Second Circuit ruled that “an alien who entered the United States after inspection and authorization has been admitted” even if he was “as the time of entry” inadmissible.

  3. Entry through a false claim to U.S. Citizenship
    A noncitizen who enters the United States through a false claim to citizenship is not considered to be lawfully admitted and their entry is treated as “entry without inspection.”

    In Reid v. INS, 95 S. Ct. 1164, 1168 (1975), a noncitizen husband and wife entered the United States claiming to be United States citizens and thereafter had two children born in the United States. The United States Supreme Court found that the non-citizens were deportable because their misrepresentation was so egregious that it significantly frustrated the process for inspecting aliens entering the United States. The couple was found deportable for having entered the United States without inspection.

  4. Entry without Inspection but later granted Temporary Protected Status
    A noncitizen who enters the United States without inspection and later obtains protected status shall for the purpose of adjustment of status is considered in, and maintaining lawful status as a nonimmigrant (INA Section 244(f)(4)). Temporary protected status conveys a legal fiction in order to allow those who have not been inspected the right to adjust status to a permanent resident.

    The term “lawfully admitted” seems straightforward but it is a legal term that changes based on the facts. The impact of not being lawfully admitted is far reaching. Unlawful entry can preclude the removal of the noncitizen and whether the noncitizen can change their status or one day becoming a permanent resident.


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Category: US Immigration

About the Author (Author Profile)

Mr. Robert R. Virasin is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science, Mr. Virasin completed his Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston and a Masters of Laws (Business) from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Mr. Virasin is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is a licensed U.S. attorney with over 15 years of legal experience. Robert is a regular contributor and author of a number of immigration related articles.


Drop your comments here:

  1. Adam Golightly says:

    My brother has been thinking about immigrating, so that he can get the right paperwork. He would really like to get some help from a professional in order to be more effective. It was interesting to learn about how he must present himself for inspection physically.

    • Siam Legal International says:

      Hi Adam,

      We would be glad to assist you. You can contact us directly at Or call us: 1 (877) 252-8831.

  2. Henry Killingsworth says:

    You made an interesting point when you explained that lawfully admitted is an important term in immigration law. I would think that working with an immigration attorney would be the best way to get lawfully admitted. An immigration attorney will know all of the regulations that need to be followed.


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