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What is Alien Smuggling under US Immigration Law?

Alien Smuggling defined

The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) states that an alien smuggler is someone who "at any time knowingly has encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided any other alien to enter or to try to enter the United States in violation of law."

Alien smuggling is the act of willfully assisting a person to enter the United States illegally. This can be through aiding the immigrant physically to cross the border, helping cover the cost to bring them, or simply encouraging them to enter illegally. Under immigration law, it is irrelevant whether the person is a family member or whether there was an exchange of money involved. Alien smuggling is not taken lightly and may be grounds for felony charges or deportation.

A person is considered a smuggler only if they are aware of the immigrant's illegality and are engaged in assistance with the illegal entrance to the United States. Also, if a person has knowledge of an immigrant entering the United States illegally but is not actively participating in the planning, the falsifying of information, or paying their way across the border, they should not be considered an alien smuggler.

Who is eligible for a waiver?

According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a person can apply for a waiver if:

  • they are a permanent resident of the United States and were temporarily traveling abroad for reasons other than deportation or removal OR
  • they are a applying for a green card based on family-based petition through a first, second or third preference visa petition only AND
  • they have smuggled either a spouse, child or parent.

The waiver applicant must then provide a reason for the waiver, which should be one of more of these reasons:

  • for "humanitarian purposes" if the applicant needs medical care in the United States
  • to "assure family unity" if the applicant will be separated from a child or spouse
  • when it is "otherwise in the public interest" if the applicant's absence from the country would affect her community, workplace or place of worship in a negative way.

For more help understanding alien smuggling and other immigration laws, contact an immigration attorney at the Law Office of Ashkan Yekrangi today.