25 Apr Washington, D.C. – April 25, 2019: For Immigration, Federal Laws on Controlled Substances Override State Laws
In a Policy Alert issued last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed its stance on controlled substance laws: violations of federal laws on controlled substances will continue to affect determinations of an alien’s good moral character, even if local state laws have decriminalized such activity.
This Policy Guidance comes in the wake of legislative movement by several states and the District of Columbia to remove criminal penalties to certain controlled substances, including marijuana. The Policy Manual states that “[a]n applicant cannot establish good moral character (GMC) if he or she has violated any controlled substance-related federal or state law or regulation of the United States or law or regulation of any foreign country during the statutory period”. Thus, foreigners in the U.S. are advised that even though a given activity may be lawful in the state where it occurs, immigration consequences may nonetheless attach if such activity constitutes a crime under federal laws.
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