Cannabis in the United States and its implications in naturalization applications

In April 2019, the media reported that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had denied the naturalization applications of at least two lawful permanent residents who had worked for state-licensed cannabis businesses in the State of Colorado. The Mayor of Denver even wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr, requesting formal guidance from the US Department of Justice, which would clarify and adjust policies that are negatively impacting the legal immigration status of individuals who work, or who have previously worked, in Colorado’s legal cannabis industry. 

The Attorney General has not responded to the Mayor of Denver. However, USCIS issued a Policy Alert a few weeks later, announcing that it had updated its Policy Manual to clarify this issue.1 However, instead of resolving the issue, the updated guidance simply reiterates that cannabis-related activities will likely bar a lawful permanent residence of the United States from naturalization, even if those activities take place in a state that has legalized cannabis. 

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Henry Chang

About Henry Chang

Henry J. Chang is a partner in the Firm’s Employment and Labor Group and Tax Group. He currently practices in the areas of Canadian and United States business immigration law, international business law, and cannabis law.

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