Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Posted on 05/09/23

Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions

If you’re facing criminal charges as an immigrant, you must understand the potential consequences of a conviction. In some instances, a criminal conviction could make you deportable under U.S. law. It could also lead to other collateral consequences impacting your immigration status. 

Learn what you need to know about criminal convictions and immigrants. Then contact the Law Offices of James A. Welcome for qualified assistance.

Direct vs. Collateral Consequences for Criminal Convictions

If the court convicts you of a crime, you will face direct consequences as part of the court’s judgment at your sentencing. These direct consequences may include jail or prison time, fees, probation periods, and specific criminal punishments resulting from the crime. 

Criminal convictions often come with collateral consequences as well. These consequences typically include civil state penalties such as disenfranchisement, loss of a professional license, eviction from public housing, and loss of entitlement to education loans.

If you’re an immigrant, then these collateral consequences could impact your immigration status. In some scenarios, a conviction could even result in deportation.

Examples of Collateral Consequences for Immigrants

Some of the collateral consequences you could experience include:

  • Denial of immigration benefits
  • Denial of your visa
  • Delays to your visa process
  • Challenges with employment and housing
  • Deportation

What Crimes Can Lead to Deportation for Immigrants?

Committing a crime can potentially alter your immigration status and force you to leave the country, even if you’re a permanent resident or have long-term legal status in the U.S. Certain convictions are more likely to result in deportation than others, including the following.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, crimes of moral turpitude involve recklessness and criminal intent and are generally morally reprehensible. A crime qualifies if it:

  • Harms someone else
  • Includes unjustified violence
  • Was performed with evil intent
  • Disrespects societal norms

Crimes that meet this definition may include:

  • Murder
  • Spousal abuse
  • Perjury
  • Assault with the intent to kill
  • Driving under the influence

A crime of moral turpitude may lead to deportation if you 1) committed it in the first five years after being lawfully admitted to the U.S. or 2) committed two crimes of moral turpitude. Your immigration attorney can review your criminal history and immigration case law to determine whether your criminal conviction could put you at risk of deportation.

A crime of moral turpitude may not lead to deportation for permanent residents if it was a “petty offense,” such as in cases where the prison sentence was for six months or less. 

Aggravated Felonies

Deportation is also a collateral consequence of aggravated felonies for criminal convictions and immigrants. Again, there isn’t a single definition of aggravated felonies. These crimes usually encompass violent acts or those that are reckless without regard for consequences. Aggravated felonies may include:

  • Murder
  • Sexual abuse of a minor
  • Illicit trafficking of a controlled substance
  • Rape

Other Deportable Crimes

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a full list of crimes that may be subject to deportation. These crimes may or may not fit under the definitions of crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies. 

Review this list to determine whether the charge you are facing could lead to deportation, then contact our immigration attorneys for assistance.

Are You Facing a Criminal Conviction as an Immigrant? We Can Help

Knowing that your residence status is on the line can be overwhelming and stressful. At the Law Offices of James A. Welcome, we help immigrants protect their rights within the U.S. If you’re facing a criminal conviction that could lead to adverse consequences for your immigration status, we can assist you. 

Give us a call at 203-753-7300 for a consultation with our immigration attorneys or to learn more about criminal convictions and immigration.