Canada’s Cannabis Conundrum – 5 Things Every U.S. Visa Holder Should Know

Oct 30, 2020 | Investor Visas

By: Joseph Barnett

Canada has officially legalized the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. While some foreign nationals may want to head north and celebrate, beware of potential consequences upon re-entry into the United States, and aware of your rights and the rights of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers. Here are five things every U.S. visa holder should know about Canada’s legalization of marijuana:

1. Inadmissible Upon Re-Entry. The Immigration and Nationality Act is written in a way such that an actual conviction of a marijuana-related offense is not required to bar admission to the U.S. An alien can be found inadmissible to the U.S. for simply admitting to committing the essential elements of any marijuana-related offense under current U.S. immigration law, even if legal in Canada.

2. Limited Waiver Available. There’s a limited waiver of inadmissibility under the INA, but not applicable for a recent “offense”. In certain situations, it may be possible to argue that the inadmissibility charge was made in error.

3. It is illegal to bring marijuana back to U.S. Even if legal in the state to which you are traveling, it is still a federal crime and illegal to cross international borders with marijuana.

4. Searches by CBP. CBP has the right to search all persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the United States from abroad. CBP officers may also examine computers, hard drives, and other electronic or digital storage devices, like cellphones, to obtain information concerning past marijuana use.

5. Lying to CBP. If you have consumed, our advice is that honesty is the best policy. The Immigration and Nationality states that those who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks admission into the United States is inadmissible and may be barred for life from entering the United States. Truth, pleasantry, deference, and patience can go a long way.

It could be all fun and games for Canadians (and U.S. citizens) consuming cannabis in Canada, but for foreign nationals traveling to the United States or in the United States on a temporary visa, there can be severe U.S. immigration consequences. For more information, please visit our prior blog on this topic.

If you have any questions or would like assistance involving marijuana-related matters, including any waivers, please contact our immigration attorneys to set up a consultation for us to learn the details of your case.

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