Everyone knows that serious criminal conduct will get you deported. However, some criminal activities that are not felonies or that do not appear very serious on the face will also get you deported. Certain crimes will prevent you from getting your greencard because they will make you inadmissible to the United States and certain crimes will get you deported from the US if you are a greencard holder or illegally here. There are different categories of criminal activity. The key point to remember with all this is that if you are not a US citizen, it is CRITICAL that if you are facing prosecution for any criminal conduct that is not an infraction, you need to make sure that your conviction does not have an immigration consequence to the extent possible. Do not assume that just because you get probation or deferred entry of judgment for a misdemeanor that it means that the conviction will not cause you to lose your greencard. It is your greencard and your responsibility to ensure that whatever conviction you get will have the least immigration consequence possible.
There are too many crimes to list that have immigration consequences. However, some of the various categories are worth mentioning. There is a category of crimes that are labeled as “aggravated felonies”. Contrary to what you might think, aggravated felonies are not all felonies. Some misdemeanors may qualify under this category. If you are convicted of an aggravated felony, it is the most serious under the immigration laws and will almost always guarantee loss of your greencard and will prevent you from immigrating to the United States. A few examples are: illegal trafficking in controlled substances, “crimes of violence” for which the term of imprisonment of one year has been imposed, a theft offense for which an term of imprisonment for one year has been imposed. A less obvious one that might not seem so serious is a offense that involves fraud or deceit and the loss to the victim exceeds $10,000. That would be enough to lose your greencard.
Most drug offenses will get you into removal proceedings. Some 1st time simple possession can be waived. A single offense of possession of 30g or less of marijuana can be waived. Just about any kind of possession for sale – even small amounts of drugs will get you into immigration trouble. Most possession for sale is not waivable and generally results in deportation.
For firearms crimes, this includes most anything to do with a gun and other similar devices e.g. bombs, grenades, etc. Simple possession of a gun in a car would be enough to get you into deportation proceedings but there is a waiver available if certain requirements are met.
Domestic violence crimes will get you into removal proceedings. There is a waiver available called cancellation of removal but there are requirements in order to qualify for cancellation of removal.
Crimes such as drunk driving at this time do not present a legal bar to obtaining your greencard and conviction of a DUI will not result in loss of your greencard. With regards to citizenship, if you have DUI, it will not prevent you from becoming a US citizen. However, if you are on probation, the USCIS cannot grant your citizenship.
The last common category is crimes of moral turpitude that are deportable offenses. Crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT) refer to crimes that are morally reprehensible. Greencard holders who are convicted of just one CIMT may face deportation only if the crime carries a possible jail sentence of at least one year and the crime was allegedly committed within five years of the alien being admitted into the U.S. The list is long and ever changing. It is worth repeating that if you are in danger of being convicted for a crime, it would be worthwhile to have an immigration attorney review the charges together with your criminal attorney to make sure that the conviction you get will not jeopardize your legal immigration status in the United States, to the extent possible.
Tsoi & Associates, Lawyers
3580 Wilshire Bl Ste 720 L A, CA 90010
Tel 213-387-2888 *Fax 213-387-2882