List of people barred or excluded from the United States

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The following is a list of notable people who are, have been or were barred from entering the United States. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) handles deportation in the United States, often in conjunction with advice from the U.S. Department of State.[1] Such bans are often temporary, depending on the circumstances of each case, however, anyone previously deported or denaturalized is automatically barred from re-entering the United States without a waiver issued by the U.S. Department of State.


  • Hamid Aboutalebi – Iranian envoy to the United Nations denied a visa in April 2014 to enter the United States because of his role as a translator for the militants who stormed the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 American citizens hostage for 444 days.[2]
  • Gerry AdamsIrish republican, later President of Sinn Féin, was denied a visa on several occasions[3] on the grounds that he refused to renounce violence.[4] Adams was granted a limited (48-hour) visa in January 1994, and would visit the U.S. on several further occasions. In 2006, however, Adams was denied a fundraising visa by the US government.[5]
  • Lily Allen – British singer, banned in 2007 from the U.S. after her U.S. work visa was revoked following her arrest earlier the same year on charges of assaulting a photographer in London.[6]
  • Luke Angel – A British teen who sent a curse-laden e-mail message to the White House directed at President Barack Obama and was subsequently banned for life from entering the United States. Bedfordshire Police visited Angel at his home in Silsoe, Bedfordshire, and Angel, who was 17 at the time of the incident, admitted to sending the e-mail, although he claimed he could not remember what he wrote.[7][8]
  • Kurt Blome – Blome, a German microbiologist and Nazi scientist, was acquitted at Nuremberg. In 1951, he was hired by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps under Project 63, one of the successors to Operation Paperclip, to work on chemical warfare. His file neglected to mention Nuremberg. Denied a visa by the U.S. Consul in Frankfurt, he was employed at European Command Intelligence Center at Oberursel, West Germany.[9]
  • Boy George – Boy George (real name George O'Dowd) was denied a visa in 2008 by US immigration officials while facing trial in the UK in November of that year. The singer had been ordered to clean the streets of New York as community service in 2006 after pleading guilty to falsely reporting a burglary. An official statement from his management said: "At the moment, Boy George cannot come to the United States of America because he has been refused permission to enter by the USA Administration. This is not in respect of anything he has done in the past but because he is facing a trial in November in London for something that happened in April last year."[10] On 5 December 2008, O'Dowd was convicted in Snaresbrook Crown Court, London, of the assault and false imprisonment of a paid sex partner (male escort) in the singer's apartment on their first encounter.[11] On 16 January 2009, O'Dowd was sentenced to 15 months in prison for these offences.[12] For this O'Dowd was again denied entry to the United States.[13] O'Dowd was allowed entry to the U.S. in 2014.[citation needed]
  • Hortensia Bussi de Allende – widow of Chilean President Salvador Allende, who was overthrown and assassinated in a coup, was barred from entering the United States when she attempted to do so in 1983.[14]
  • Pete Doherty – British singer, with numerous drugs-related arrests, denied entry into the United States in June 2010, after spending 10 hours in detention in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, despite having a visa.[15]
  • Kyle Falconer – Scottish lead singer for The View. In 2007 he was convicted of possessing cocaine, resulting in the cancellation of the band's US tour.[16] The View had been refused entry to the USA, prompting public claims from Falconer that they are permanently banned from both America and Japan. In interviews since the conviction, however, the band have insisted that drugs are no longer an issue and were hoping to tour the States in the near future. Permission for the band to tour the US was granted in 2011.[17]
  • William "Leffen" Hjelte, Swedish professional Super Smash Bros. Melee player barred from entering the United States in 2015 just before The Big House 5 tournament based on the ESTA, an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) due to the lack of a visa which was required as he was sponsored or employed by Team SoloMid, a company based in the United States.[18]
  • Yusuf Islam – British singer formerly known as Cat Stevens was denied entry into the United States on 21 September 2004, and would remain banned until December 2006, when he was re-admitted without incident to perform at several radio concerts and to conduct interviews promoting his new album.[19] His name had originally been flagged as being on a no fly list. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers alerted the United States Transportation Security Administration, which then diverted his flight to Bangor, Maine, where he was detained by officers from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).[20] The following day, he was flown back to the United Kingdom. A spokesman for the DHS stated that there had been "concerns of ties he may have to potential terrorist-related activities".[21] The singer said that it may have been an error due to the similarity of his name with that of one "Youssef Islam".[22]
  • Nigella Lawson – chef author and TV host of The Taste, was barred from a flight out of London to Los Angeles, California on 30 March 2014, due to public revelations of past cocaine use, which became public during her contentious divorce from her second husband.[23]
  • Diego Maradona – former Argentine soccer player and coach. Was initially refused entry in 1993 due to cocaine-related arrests and charges in Italy and Argentina; Maradona had been banned from playing soccer/football for 15 months in 1991. Was then allowed entry to the USA in 1994 to play for the Argentine national team who were competing in the FIFA World Cup in the United States that year; and in 2013 Maradona then attempted to go to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida with his grandson, but was denied a visa at the American consulate in Dubai due to additional drug and assault related charges compiled from 1994 to 2013.[24][25]
  • Madchild (né Shane Bunting) – Canadian rapper, who, in early 2011, was banned from entering the United States, due to alleged ties with the Hells Angels biker gang. Bunting stated that he had been detained at a U.S. airport for approximately eight hours before being told he could not enter the U.S.[26]
  • Liza Maza – U.S. immigration authorities barred her from entering the U.S. on July 9, 2015 before she was to participate in a left-wing conference on U.S. activities in the Philippines. She has accused the U S. of supporting human rights violations in the Philippines. She plans to file charges against the U.S. and Korean Airlines, the airline that she was supposed to have taken.[27][28]
  • Bernadette Devlin McAliskey – Irish republican activist McAliskey was banned from entering the United States on 21 February 2003. US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials at O'Hare Airport (Chicago) seized McAliskey who was traveling on a flight from Dublin to New York on the grounds that she posed a “serious threat to national security”; an official stated that she was not allowed to enter due to an “expired visa waiver”. She had also been temporarily banned from entering the U.S. in 1983 for fundraising for the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).[29]
  • Narendra ModiPrime Minister of India & former Chief Minister of Gujarat. In 2005, Modi was denied a diplomatic A-2 visa to the United States. In addition, the B-1/B-2 visa that had previously been granted to him was revoked, under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act which makes any foreign government official who was responsible or "directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" ineligible for the visa.[30] Modi remains the only person ever to be banned to travel to the United States of America under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) provision of US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).[31] In 2012, A Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Indian Supreme Court found no "prosecutable evidence" against Modi and cleared him of all charges. The US visa issue morphed into a diplomatic hurdle in bilateral India–United States relations when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India in 2014. Modi, however, was allowed to visit the US in September 2014 after becoming the Prime Minister of India.[32]
  • Shane Paul O'Doherty (born 1955, Derry, Northern Ireland) – Provisional Irish Republican Army bomber. One of his bombs injured a member of the British Cabinet, Reginald Maudling. He sent a letter bomb to 10 Downing Street, which did not explode. Other locales where his bombs did detonate include the London Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, and an otherwise unidentified government building, injuring several people, including a security guard who lost an eye and a hand. O'Doherty sent a bomb to Bishop Gerard Tickle, the Roman Catholic chaplain to the British Army, after reading a newspaper story which purportedly quoted the bishop as stating that British soldiers did nothing wrong on Bloody Sunday. The bomb was stuffed into a hollowed-out Bible but failed to detonate. His United States citizen wife, Michelle Sweeney, tried to sponsor him for a visa, which was denied based on O'Doherty's criminal record. The marriage was later annulled.[33][34][N 1]
  • Alexi OgandoMajor League Baseball player (relief pitcher) admitted his involvement in an immigration marriage fraud ring. He was banned in 2009 from entering the United States for five years, limiting him to winter ball, the Dominican Summer League and international tournaments.[35]
  • Pogo, born Nick Bertke, is a South African-born Australian electronic music artist/producer. He was incarcerated for three weeks – two weeks in a county jail and another week in a federal detention centre – after being apprehended without a working visa while touring in America in September 2011. His 10-year ban took effect the following month.[36]
  • Marion PriceProvisional Irish Republican Army bomber who was convicted of causing explosions in London on 8 March 1973, was refused a visa to enter the USA in 1999. She had been due to speak at a fundraising event in New York that had been organised by the Irish Freedom Committee.[37]
  • Tariq Ramadan – Swiss academic, educator and author (Western Muslims and the Future of Islam) was banned from entering the United States from 2004–2010. He purportedly was given various reasons for the ban, including having "endorsed terrorism" and "violated the USA Patriot Act". Later he was banned for having contributed money to a French charity supporting humanitarian work in the Palestinian territories between 1998 and 2002, which was deemed, in 2003, to have the charities in question provided money to Hamas. In 2010, the ban was lifted.[38]
  • Tarek William Saab – current President of the Republican Moral Council of Venezuela and former head of the foreign policy commission of Venezuela's National Assembly was refused an entry visa to the United States in 2002. Reuters reported that Saab told local television he had been denied the visa because a U.S. State Department report "identified him as 'an individual linked to international subversion'". According to Venezuela's El Universal, Saab gave a press conference, in which he referred to published information that he had been denied the visa as a consequence of his ties with international terrorist organizations. Saab denied that he was associated with international terrorism or subversive groups.[39]
  • Mark Thatcher – son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Sir Mark Thatcher was denied a green card (permanent residency visa), although then married to a U.S. citizen, Louise Thatcher (née Burgdorf), due to his guilty plea in January 2005 in South Africa to breaking anti-mercenary legislation in South Africa by investing in an aircraft "without taking proper investigations into what it would be used for", admitting in court that he had paid the money, but said he was under the impression it was to be invested in an air ambulance service to help impoverished Africans. The judge rejected this explanation and Thatcher was fined R3,000,000 rand and received a four-year suspended jail sentence. On 3 April 2005, Thatcher, then living with his mother in London, announced that his family home would be in Europe after he was refused a residence visa to live in the United States as a result of his guilty plea in the Equatorial Guinea affair.[40]
  • Gerard Ungerman – French filmmaker banned from re-entering the United States for 15 months beginning on 13 December 2010. After being “stuck” in Paris for five months disputing with U.S. immigration authorities over his right to return to California, where he had lived for almost 20 years, he was officially barred from re-entering the U.S., despite the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s approval of his immigrant visa petition, which should have allowed him to return. U.S. immigration authorities in Europe charged that he had been living in the U.S. illegally and was therefore ineligible for the approved green card (permanent residency visa) for which he had traveled to the U.S. Consulate in Paris to pick up per the directive from DHS. “What I didn't know is that I should not have left the country”, Ungerman later realized, “but I should have worked out with a lawyer to convert my immigrant-visa approval into an actual immigrant status from inside the country. Instead I went out to Paris, where I had been ‘invited’ to pick up my visa at the U.S. Consulate. By doing that, I stepped into a bear trap because the consul there accused me [in July] of having stayed illegally and told me I was ineligible for my visa for 10 years and couldn't go back home”, but was eventually allowed to return to the U.S., arriving on 12 October 2011.[41]
  • Kurt and Elisabeth Waldheim – Waldheim, an Austrian diplomat and politician; United Nations official, and President of Austria (1986–1992), and his wife Elisabeth, were officially deemed personae non gratae by the United States and excluded from entering United States territory due to their Nazi affiliations and activities during World War II.[42] In 1987, the couple was placed on a watch list of persons banned from entering the United States and remained on the list for the remainder of their lives.
  • Amy Winehouse – British singer banned from the USA in 2009 for drug convictions and for assault. A year and a half after she had been barred from entering the country in 2007 to attend the Grammys due to a drug rap, U.S. authorities refused to grant her a work visa in 2009 to perform at the Coachella festival. She was ordered to appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court to face a common assault charge (dating from September 2008) on 17 March 2009. Winehouse had been previously prohibited from playing in the U.S. after she was arrested in Norway on a drug charge, and ended up performing live via satellite.[43] Winehouse died in 2011.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ O'Doherty entered studies for the priesthood after receiving a waiver from the Vatican with the assistance of the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, which was required due to his attempt on the life of Bishop Tickle in 1972.[33][34]


  1. ^ "Deportation". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia University Press. 2007. Retrieved 16 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Iranian diplomat Hamid Aboutalebi denied visa,, 12 April 2014; accessed 14 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Gerry Adams To Visit? Ruling Could Open Visa Gate To Sinn Feiner",, 23 October 1987; accessed 2 June 2014
  4. ^ "Adams is allowed 48-hour US visa: Clinton agrees visit despite dispute", The Independent, 31 January 1994
  5. ^ "Adams visit cools US/UK relations",, 13 June 2008; accessed 2 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Lily Allen banned from U.S. after arrest for hitting a paparazzo in 2007", The Daily Telegraph; accessed 3 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Drunk e-mailing the President of the United States, however, can get you banned from the country - permanently", New York Daily News, 13 September 2010.
  8. ^
  9. ^ George J. Annas; Michael A. Grodin (1 August 1995). The Nazi doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-510106-5. 
  10. ^ Khan, Urmee (24 June 2008) Boy George banned from U.S., The Telegraph
  11. ^ Angela Balakrishna "Boy George guilty of falsely imprisoning male escort", The Guardian, 5 December 2008.
  12. ^ "Boy George jailed for 15 months". BBC News. 16 January 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "Boy George Denied Entry to US",; accessed 10 April 2014.
  14. ^ New York Times report on Hortensia Bussi de Allende's ban from the United States, New York Times, 4 March 1983
  15. ^ "Pete Doherty never made it out of the airport.". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 11 June 2010. 
  16. ^ The View singer's cocaine penalty, BBC News, 2 March 2007; accessed 22 May 2008
  17. ^ "The View talk to Billy Sloan". 'Sunday Mail'. 5 March 2008. 
  18. ^ Demers, Matt (October 1, 2015). "Leffen denied entry to USA for Smash tournament". Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  19. ^ Pareles, Jon (20 December 2006). "Yusuf Islam Steps Back Into Cat Stevens's Old Sound". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 December 2007. 
  20. ^ Goo, Sara Kehaulani (22 September 2004). "Cat Stevens held after D.C. flight diverted". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 December 2007. 
  21. ^ Goo, Sara Kehaulani (23 September 2004). "Cat Stevens leaves U.S. after entry denied". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 December 2007. 
  22. ^ King, Larry (7 October 2004) "Interview With Yusuf Islam, Formerly Cat Stevens, Larry King Live". CNN. Retrieved 7 January 2007. 
  23. ^ "Nigella Lawson barred from flight out of London to Los Angeles" by Nancy Dillon,; accessed 2 April 2014.
  24. ^ News, A. B. C. (17 July 2013). "This Soccer Legend Was Denied a U.S. Visa". Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  25. ^ Boateng, Michael Ofori Amanfo. "Diego Maradona denied entry to Disney World over Visa issues". Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  26. ^ DeMara, Bruce (5 January 2011). "Vancouver rapper Mad Child barred from entering U.S.". Toronto Star. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  27. ^ "United States government bars woman leader". 18 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  28. ^ "Women's Group Hits Government for Barring ex-Lawmaker from Leaving the Philippines". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  29. ^ James, Steve (5 March 2003) "Ireland's Bernadette Devlin McAliskey deported from the US", World Socialist Website
  30. ^ "No entry for Modi into US: visa denied". The Times of India. 18 March 2005. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  31. ^ Mann, James (2 May 2014). "Why Narendra Modi Was Banned From the U.S.". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  32. ^ "Modi visits US". Forbes. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  33. ^ a b Cullen, Kevin. (7 August 2005) Shane Paul O'Doherty profile in The Boston Globe
  34. ^ a b Shane Paul O'Doherty profile in The Derry Journal, 2 February 2012.
  35. ^ Evan Grant (9 March 2009). "Role in Fraud Ruins Dreams for Texas Rangers' Prospects". Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on February 6, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Aussie music producer Nick Bertke, aka Pogo, jailed, banned from US". Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  37. ^ Marion Price banned from entering the US,; accessed 19 December 2015.
  38. ^ "Tariq Ramadan's ban from U.S. lifted", Washington Post, 9 April 2010
  39. ^ Saab denied visa to the USA,; accessed 8 July 2015.
  40. ^ BBC report on Mark Thatcher's plea bargain in re Equatorial Guinea conspiracy, 13 January 2005.
  41. ^ LaPado-Breglia, Christine G.K. (23 December 2010) Filmmaker Gerard Ungerman stuck in France,
  42. ^ "Waldheim, ex-UN leader and Nazi, buried in Austria". Reuters. 23 June 2007. 
  43. ^ "Amy Winehouse banned from U.S. for various reasons on various occasions",; accessed 25 October 2015.

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