How a Criminal Record Can Affect Immigration Proceedings?

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in Immigration | 0 comments

For someone who is accused of a crime, the first thing that comes to mind is the impact it will have on his immigration status. First and foremost, conviction will have a different definition under immigration laws compared to state criminal laws. For immigration purposes, a person is considered convicted based on a couple of elements: 1) the person was found guilty or entered a guilty plea and 2) the judge ordered some kind of restraint or punishment on the liberty of a person.

An Austin immigration attorney will tell you that being convicted of a crime can pose a serious challenge for their immigration application. Persons who have committed serious crimes may find it difficult to apply for a green card compared to one who has committed low-level crimes. Having a criminal record may result to one of the following outcomes:

  • Denial of your application for lawful permanent residence or naturalization
  • Being lined up for deportation proceedings
  • Detention while removing proceedings are ongoing
  • Deportation to home country
  • Banning from returning to the United States either for a certain number of years or permanently

Under immigration laws, there are certain crimes that can automatically make a person ineligible for a green card. Let us enumerate them.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude and Controlled Substance Violation

Immigration laws define crimes of moral turpitude as one that shocks the public consciousness or involves fraud. Some examples of these crimes include theft, transporting or receiving stolen goods, embezzlement, fraud, adultery, assault, to name just a few.

The good news is that a person who is convicted of crimes of moral turpitude can still be given a green card if they meet one of a few exceptions:

  • The crime was committed by a person below 18 years old, the crime was committed five years ago, and the person is no longer serving jail time
  • The person was charged for a crime with a maximum possible penalty of not more than a year and the actual term of imprisonment was no more than six months. This is often called the “petty offense” exception.

The Immigration and Nationality Act enumerates other crimes that will disqualify a person from getting a green card due to inadmissibility. These crimes include drug trafficking, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering, and multiple convictions with a minimum total sentence of five years.

Immigration authorities can also have a discretion to deny green card even if the applicant committed a crime that does not match one of the exceptions of inadmissibility.

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