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Terrorism-related Inadmissibility Grounds Exemptions

The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, can authorize exemptions from the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG).  See INA section 212(d)(3)(B).

Please see below for more information on each of these exemptions approved to date.

Situational Exemptions to Date Group Exemptions To Date
Material Support Under Duress All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF)
Solicitation Under Duress All India Sikh Students Federation-Bittu Faction (AISSF-Bittu)
Military-Type Training Under Duress Iraqi National Congress (INC), Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)
Voluntary Medical Care 10 Named Organizations in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (CAA)

Certain Aliens with Existing Immigration Benefits

Certain Association or Activities with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)

Iraqi Uprisings

 Who cannot receive an exemption?

Exemptions cannot be granted to certain individuals, such as those who pose a danger to the United States or continue to engage in terrorist activities. 

Material Support Under Duress

Exemptions may be granted for applicants who provided material support under duress to designated or undesignated terrorist organizations. 

An example of material support under duress could include providing money or a service (such as transporting fighters and supplies) to a rebel group when threatened at gunpoint to comply with such a demand.

To be eligible for an exemption from the supplies support provision an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of each provisions of material support; and
  • Establish that he or she does not pose a danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether material support was provided under duress and whether the totality of the circumstances warrant an exemption. Factors to be considered in this determination include:

  • Whether the applicant reasonably could have avoided, or took steps to avoid, providing material support;
  • The severity and type of harm inflicted or threatened;
  • To whom the harm was directed;
  • The perceived imminence of the harm threatened and the perceived likelihood that the harm would be inflicted and;
  • Any other relevant factor

For more information on the Exemption for Providing Material Support to an Undesignated Terrorist Organization, please see the links below.

February 26, 2007 Exercise of Authority

May 24, 2007 USCIS Implementation Memorandum, “Processing the Discretionary Exemption to the Inadmissibility Ground for Providing Material Support to Certain Terrorist Organizations”

For more information on the Exemption for Providing Material Support to a Designated Terrorist Organization, please see the links below.

April 27, 2007 Exercise of Authority

May 24, 2007 USCIS Implementation Memorandum, “Processing the Discretionary Exemption to the Inadmissibility Ground for Providing Material Support to Certain Terrorist Organizations”

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Solicitation Under Duress

Effective January 7, 2011, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, exercised her discretionary authority not to apply an inadmissibility ground to certain aliens who, under duress, solicited funds or members for a terrorist organization.

To be eligible for an exemption from the solicitation provision an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances all activities and associations under the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds; and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether solicitation was conducted under duress and whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption. 

For more information on this exemption, please see the links below.

January 7, 2011 Exercise of Authority

February 23, 2011 USCIS Implementation Memo, “Implementation of New Discretionary Exemption Under INA Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) For Solicitation of Funds or Members Under Duress”

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Military-Type Training Under Duress

Effective January 7, 2011, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, exercised her discretionary authority not to apply an inadmissibility ground to certain aliens who, under duress, received military-type training from, or on behalf of, a terrorist organization.

To be eligible for an exemption from the military-type training provision an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of the military-type training and any other association or activity under the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds;
  • Not have received training that itself poses a risk to the United States or U.S. interests (e.g., training on torture, espionage, or production or use of a weapon of mass destruction); and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether military-type training was received under duress and whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption. 

For more information on this exemption, please see the links below.

January 7, 2011 Exercise of Authority

February 23, 2011 USCIS Implementation Memo, “Implementation of New Discretionary Exemption Under INA Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) For Receipt of Military-Type Training Under Duress”

Voluntary Provision of Medical Care

Effective October 13, 2011, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, authorized an exemption for certain aliens who provided medical care to individuals that the alien knew, or reasonably should have known, committed or planned to commit a terrorist activity, or to members of a terrorist organization as described in INA Section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi).

An example of the provision of medical care could include providing services in the capacity of a medical professional to members of a terrorist organization.

To be eligible for an exemption from the medical care provision an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of any medical care provided and any other activity or association falling within the scope of the terrorist activity-related grounds of the INA;
  • Not have voluntarily and knowingly provided medical care on behalf of a designated terrorist organization, as described in  (INA Section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(I) or (II), or 8 USC 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi)(I) or (II)’
  • Not have voluntarily and knowingly provided medical care with the intent of furthering the terrorist or otherwise violent activities of an organization of individual; and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS evaluates whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption.

For more information on this exemption, please see the links below.

October 13, 2011 Exercise of Authority

November 20, 2011, USCIS Implementation Memo, “Implementation of New Discretionary Exemption Under INA Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) For the Provision of Material Support in the Form of Medical Care”

Association or Activities with the All Burma Student’s Democratic Front (ABSDF)

Effective December 16, 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, exercised her discretionary authority not to apply terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds to certain aliens who have voluntary associations or activities with the All Burma Student’s Democratic Front (ABSDF) as described in INA section 212(a)(3)(B).

To be eligible for this exemption an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of all activities and associations under the terrorism related inadmissibilty grounds;
  • Establish that he or she has not participated in, or knowingly provided material support to terrorist activities that targeted noncombatant persons or U.S. interests; and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether solicitation was conducted under duress and whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption. 

For more information on this exemption, please see the links below.

December, 16 2010 Exercise of Authority

December 29, 2010 USCIS Implementation Memo, “Implementation of New Discretionary Exemption Under INA Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) For Activities and Associations Relating to the All Burma Student’s Democratic Front (ABSDF)”

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Provision of Material Support to the All India Sikh Student’s Federation- Bittu Faction (AISSF- Bittu)

Effective October 18, 2011, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, exercised her discretionary authority not to apply an inadmissibility ground to certain aliens who have voluntary provided material support to the India Sikh Student’s Federation- Bittu Faction (AISSF- Bittu) as described in INA section 212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI).

To be eligible for this exemption an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of all activities and associations under the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds;
  • Establish that he or she has not participated in, or knowingly provided material support to terrorist activities that targeted noncombatant persons or U.S. interests; and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether solicitation was conducted under duress and whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption. 

For more information on this exemption, please see the links below.

October,18 2010 Exercise of Authority

December 29, 2010 USCIS Implementation Memo, “Implementation of New Discretionary Exemption Under INA Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) For Material Support to the All India Sikh Student’s Federation- Bittu Faction (AISSF- Bittu)”

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Certain Association or Activities with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)

Effective September 21, 2009, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, authorized exemptions  for certain aliens who have voluntary, non-violent associations or activities with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) or Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) as described in INA section 212(a)(3)(B). 

To be eligible for this exemption an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of all activities and associations under the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds;
  • Establish that he or she has not participated in, or knowingly provided material support to terrorist activities that targeted noncombatant persons or U.S. interests; and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption.

For more information on this exemption, please see the link below.

September 21, 2009 Excerises of Authority

January 23, 2010 USCIS Implementation Memo, “Implementation of New Discretionary Exemption Under INA Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) For Activities and Associations Relating to the INC, KDP and PUK”

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10 Named Organizations in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (CAA)

In December 2007, Congress named 10 organizations in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (CAA) that are not to be considered Tier III organizations on account of any activity prior to December 27, 2007, when the CAA was signed into law.  These groups include:

  • Karen National Union/Karen National Army (KNU/KNA) - Burma
  • Chin National Front/Chin National Army (CNF/CNA) - Burma
  • Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) - Burma
  • Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) - Burma
  • Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) - Burma
  • Tibetan Mustangs - Tibet
  • Cuban Alzados - Cuba
  • Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) - Burma
  • “Appropriate groups affiliated with the Hmong” – Vietnam
  • “Appropriate groups affiliated with Montagnards” – Vietnam
  • African National Congress (ANC) – South Africa (Added July 2008 by P.L. 110-257).

Association or activity with one of the named groups prior to December 27, 2007, does not make an individual inadmissible under INA Section 212(a)(3)(B).  This is true even if the group engaged in terrorist activity after that date.  However, any terrorist activity by one of these groups after December 27, 2007, will result in the group’s return to Tier III status.  In addition, certain inadmissibility grounds remained unaffected by the CAA’s automatic relief provisions.  In order to address this, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State issued a number of exemptions in June 2008 that allowed the consideration of exemptions for individuals having exemptible activities or affiliations with the 10 groups named in the CAA. 

For more information on these exemptions, please see the links below.

June 18, 2008, Exercise of Authority

July 28, 2008, USCIS Implementation Memo “Implementation of Section 691 of Division J of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, and Updated Processing Requirements for Discretionary Exemptions to Terrorist Activity Inadmissibility Grounds”

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Certain Association or Activities with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)

Effective June 4, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, authorized an exemption for certain aliens who have voluntary, non-violent associations or activities with Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as described in INA section 212(a)(3)(B). 

To be eligible for this exemption you must:

  • Establish that you are eligible for the immigration benefit or protection;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of all activities and associations under the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds;
  • Establish that you are not or have been subject to an indictment by an international tribunal;
  • Establish that you are not or participated in, or knowingly provided material support to terrorist activities that targeted noncombatant persons or U.S. interests; and
  • Establish that you pose no danger to the safety and security of the United States.

USCIS will evaluate whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption.

For more information on this exemption, please see the link below.

KLA Excerise of Authority

KLA Implementation Memo

Certain Aliens with Existing Immigration Benefits

On August 10, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, authorized an exemption for certain aliens with existing immigration benefits who are currently inadmissible under INA section 212(a)(3)(B)(i).  Applicants eligible for this exemption must have only select voluntary, non-violent, associations or activities with certain undesignated terrorist organizations.  This exemption applies to aliens who currently possess lawful status in the United States (i.e., asylee or refugee status, temporary protected status, or adjustment of status under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Centeral American Relief Act or Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, or similar immigration benefit other than a non-immigrant visa), and to beneficiaries of an I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition filed at any time by such an asylee or refugee.

Undesignated terrorist organizations are generally defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III).  In order to qualify for this exemption, the undesignated terrorist organization that the applicant is associated must not at any time have:

  • Targeted U.S. interests or persons, including planned or attempted attacks on U.S. interests or persons;
  • Engaged in a pattern or practice of torture, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2441(d)(1)(A), genocide, as described in 18 U.S.C. 1091(a), or the use of child soldiers, as described in 18 U.S.C. 2242;
  • Been identified in either Executive Order 13224, as amended, or otherwise designated by the Secretary of State or the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDNL), or in lists established by United Nations Security Council Committee under Resolutions 1267 (1999) or 1988 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities; or
  • Been designated as a Tier I or Tier II terrorist organization as described in subsections 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(I) or (II) of the INA.

 In addition to group qualifications listed above, to be eligible for this exemption an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection being sought;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Fully disclose, to the best of his or her knowledge, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of all activities or associations falling within the scope of INA section 212(a)(3)(B), including those relating to any terrorist organizations not considered Tier III;
  • Establish that he or she has not knowingly provided material support to terrorist activities hat targeted noncombatant persons, U.S. citizens or U.S. interests;
  • Establish that he or she has not received training that itself poses a risk to the United States or United States interests (such as training on production or use of a weapon of mass destruction, as defined by 18 U.S.C. Section 2332a(c)(2), torture or espionage);
  • Establish that he or she is not in removal proceedings or subject to a final order of removal, unless the applicant is the beneficiary of an I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition;
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the safety and security of the United States; and
  • Establish that he or she warrants an exemption in the totality of the circumstances.

For more information on this exemption, please see the link below.

August 10, 2012 Exercise of Authority

Limited General Exemptions

Iraqi Uprisings

On August 17, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, exercised her discretionary authority not to apply most terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds to certain aliens for participation in the Iraqi uprisings against the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq from March 1 through April 5, 1991

 To be eligible for this exemption an applicant must:

  • Establish that he or she is otherwise eligible for the immigration benefit or protection being sought;
  • Undergo and pass all required background and security checks;
  • Have fully disclosed, to the best of his or her knowledge, in all relevant applications and interviews with U.S. Government representatives and agents, the nature and circumstances of all activities or associations falling within the scope of INA section 212(a)(3)(B), including those relating to organizations and events other than the Iraqi uprisings; and
  • Establish that he or she has not participated in, or knowingly provided material support to, terrorist activities that targeted noncombatant persons not affiliated with Saddam Hussein’s regime from March 1 through April 5 of 1991, or U.S. interests;
  • Establish that he or she has not engaged in terrorist activity, not otherwise exempted, outside the context of resistance activities directed against Saddam Hussein’s regime from March 1 through April 5 of 1991; and
  • Establish that he or she poses no danger to the security of the United States.

 USCIS will evaluate whether the totality of the circumstances warrants an exemption.

 For more information on this exemption, please see the link below.

 August 17, 2012 Exercise of Authority

Iraqi Uprisings Exemption Memo

Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/14/2012