Immigrants to the United States may face a number of obstacles as they seek authorization to enter or remain in the country, obtain lawful permanent resident status, or become U.S. citizens. One important factor that can have an impact on an immigration case involves criminal convictions that occurred in the past. If you are an immigrant to the U.S. who has been convicted of a crime, you will need to understand how your conviction will affect your immigration status.
Criminal Convictions Can Lead to Deportation
One of the biggest consequences of having a criminal conviction as an immigrant is that it could lead to deportation proceedings in certain cases. Depending on the severity of the charge and any other factors involved, such as aggravating circumstances or prior offenses, a criminal conviction could result in removal from the country. “Deportable offenses” include:
Aggravated felonies – These include charges such as murder, sexual assault, sexual abuse, possession of child pornography, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering.
Drug crimes – Offenses related to controlled substances, including drug possession, may lead to deportation. However, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana is not a deportable offense.
Weapons charges – Offenses related to unlawfully purchasing, selling, possessing, owning, or carrying a firearm or other dangerous weapon may make a person eligible for deportation.
Domestic violence – These offenses may include domestic abuse committed against a person’s spouse or child, stalking, harassment, or child neglect. Violations of protective orders that are issued in cases involving domestic violence may also lead to deportation.
Crimes involving moral turpitude – In addition to some of the offenses described above, other crimes that are considered to be shocking or depraved may lead to deportation if a person is sentenced to at least one year in prison. Multiple convictions of these types of crimes may also cause a person to be deportable, even if they are sentenced to less than one year.
Criminal Convictions May Cause a Person to Be Inadmissible
Certain types of criminal convictions may also affect a person’s ability to apply for a visa or Green Card. Offenses that may cause a person to be inadmissible to the United States include:
Crimes involving moral turpitude – Exceptions may apply if a person was convicted of a single offense that was committed before they reached the age of 18, and the crime occurred five years or more before they applied for a visa or for admission to the U.S.; or if a person was convicted of a single offense that had a maximum sentence of one year in prison, and they were sentenced to six months or less.
Drug crimes – These may include any violations of state or federal laws related to controlled substances, as well as offenses committed in other countries.
Prostitution – These offenses may apply to those who are convicted of engaging in prostitution or soliciting a prostitute, as well as any other charges related to “commercialized vice.”
Serious criminal activity – Convictions for violent crimes, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or reckless driving may make a person inadmissible.
Other criminal convictions – A person who has been convicted of at least two offenses that resulted in a total sentence of at least five years in prison may be inadmissible.
In some cases, a person may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility that will allow them to enter or remain in the United States even if they have previous criminal convictions. In these cases, a person will usually need to show that denial of admission to the U.S. would cause extreme hardship for an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder.
Contact Our DuPage County Deportation Defense Attorneys
Criminal convictions can lead to serious consequences in immigration cases, but there are options available that may allow a person to avoid deportation and ensure that they can live and work in the United States. At Unzueta Law Group, P.C., we can provide guidance for those who need to address issues related to criminal charges or convictions. We will help you understand your rights under the law, and we will work with you to develop strategies for protecting yourself from potential penalties such as deportation or inadmissibility. To explore your legal options in these situations, contact a knowledgeable Itasca immigration lawyer today at 630-509-2363 and arrange a consultation.