How Crimes Can Affect Your Immigration Situation
If you’re not a U.S. citizen, it’s important to be aware of how certain crimes can limit your immigration opportunities — sometimes permanently. Criminal charges can affect your rights in three major ways:
- Certain criminal offenses — especially crimes involving moral turpitude — can disqualify you from getting a green card or any other immigration status.
- If you already have a green card, you can nonetheless be deported for certain crimes called aggravated felonies, as defined under federal immigration law.
- A criminal history can prevent you from becoming a U.S. citizen, which requires demonstrating good moral character.
The Unique Advantage We Offer
At the Bellwoar Kelly, LLP, we practice in both immigration law and criminal defense. This means we understand the overlap between these two complex areas. In many cases, such an in-depth level of knowledge can make the difference between getting permission to stay in the U.S. and getting deported.
At Risk Of Losing Your Green Card?
The definition of aggravated felony is quite broad. Even certain misdemeanors might count, depending on the type of charge. Examples of charges that are typically aggravated felonies include:
- Sexual abuse
- Drug trafficking
- Theft or burglary resulting in a prison sentence of at least a year
- Certain violent crimes
- Certain firearms offenses
- Attempt or conspiracy to commit an aggravated felony
Sometimes, green-card holders end up unnecessarily facing deportation after they plead guilty to an offense that turns out to be an aggravated felony. It’s often possible to resolve these cases in a way that protects your immigration status.
For this reason, if you have a green card and are facing any criminal charges, it’s critical to consult with an immigration attorney — preferably one who also understands criminal law, as we do. We may be able to get the charges dismissed, changed or reduced to avoid disastrous immigration penalties.
Applying For A Green Card (Or Other Immigration Status) With A Criminal Record
Certain crimes — even those that were expunged or sealed — can disqualify you from obtaining any immigration status. These include:
- Crimes involving moral turpitude (such as theft, fraud, violent crimes and even DUIs under certain circumstances)
- Controlled substance violations
- Drug trafficking
- Aggravated felonies
- Multiple crimes with a combined sentence of 5-plus years
Because the definition of these crimes may differ from the laws under which you were convicted, it’s not always easy to determine whether a criminal record will stand in your way. In some cases, there may be strong grounds for arguing that what seems like a disqualifying offense in fact isn’t.
Our lawyers understand how to sort out these complex issues — and how to fight for the opportunities you deserve.
Worried About How Criminal Charges Will Affect Your Immigration Status?
At our firm, you can feel confident that your rights are in capable hands. Contact our office in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at 610-314-7066 (or toll free 800-648-9946) for a free consultation. Hablamos español.