Other Crimes: Effect on Immigration Status

The two types of crimes often mentioned when it comes to individual’s immigration status or eligibility are Aggravated Felonies and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). However, there are several other categories of crimes where a conviction or arrest can have a significant consequence on an individual’s ability to get a visa, become a permanent resident or gain US citizenship.

What Other Crimes May Affect Immigration Status?

In addition to Aggravated Felonies and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude, offenses relating to controlled substances, domestic violence, firearms and prostitution are particularly damaging, not just to the well-being of the individual and others, but to the individual’s ability to enter or remain in the United States.

What qualifies as a controlled substance offense is extremely broad. Basically, any crime “relating to” a controlled substance potentially subjects an individual to removal or inadmissibility with respect to applying for entry into the United States or gaining legal status. The one exception concerns drug crimes that deal with 30 grams or less of marijuana for the individual’s personal use.

A firearm offense refers to any violation of law specifically relating to a firearm. However, if the firearm factor is a significant element of another crime, then it’s possible a firearm offense can still be present even if the conviction isn’t technically for a firearm offense.

Domestic violence refers to a wide range of crimes where an individual commits an act of violence against a spouse, intimate partner or other cohabitant. However, the exact definition will usually depend on the state’s domestic violence laws. Domestic violence can also include child abuse, child neglect, violations of domestic violence protective orders and stalking.

Prostitution can refer to a wide range of crimes, including a single instance of engaging in prostitution to a pattern of prostitution to running a full-scale prostitution business. The specific nature of the prostitution charge will vary depending on what state law the individual is charged with.

Immigration Consequences of a Controlled Substance Offense

For those already in the United States, a conviction of a crime involving a controlled substance is almost always going to result in removal (not considering the 30 gram marijuana for personal use exception). And if the individual has a history of drug addiction, it’s possible they can be removed even without a controlled substance conviction.

Individuals wishing to enter the United States, adjust their immigration status or gain US citizenship will also face serious consequences for a controlled substance conviction. A conviction may deem the individual inadmissible when they try to apply for a Green Card or US citizenship. Without a conviction, the individual can still be deemed inadmissible if they are addicted to drugs or immigration officials have “reason to believe” the individual has participated in or directly benefited from drug trafficking.

Immigration Consequences of a Firearms Offense

If an individual receives a firearms conviction, they are subject to removal, although they are probably not going to be deemed inadmissible on those grounds. This is because grounds for inadmissibility don’t specifically include firearms offenses. But that doesn’t mean those looking to adjust their immigration status or enter the United States are in the clear. A firearms conviction will likely also be an Aggravated Felony or at least a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude. In that case, removal and inadmissibility are likely.

Immigration Consequences of a Domestic Abuse Offense

Removal is a likely consequence of a domestic violence criminal conviction. However, a domestic violence conviction can also prevent an individual from getting a visa, Green Card or citizenship if they are deemed to be inadmissible. Even though a domestic violence conviction isn’t technically grounds for inadmissibility, it can often be considered a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude. And if the domestic violence conviction results sentence of one year or more, it can be considered an Aggravated Felony.

Immigration Consequences of a Prostitution Offense

The specific facts that led to a prostitution offense conviction are important. There can be different immigration consequences based on the exact sexual act that has occurred and the ultimate charge placed against the individual. Federal law doesn’t specifically include prostitution as a conviction that can result in removal. However, many prostitution convictions will at least qualify as a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude and a few can even be considered an Aggravated Felony. Because of this, inadmissibility and removal are distinct possibilities.

Exceptions and Waivers

For certain convictions, such as those classified as Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude, exceptions may be available if the individual was under 18 when committing the offense or the offense is considered “petty.” Other requirements must also be met, such as those that relate to the number of instances of moral turpitude offenses in a certain period of time and the length of any criminal sentence imposed.

Even if one of these exceptions doesn’t apply, a waiver could be available for those deemed inadmissible. The help of a seasoned immigration attorney can help you figure out the options.

Protecting Yourself Today and Tomorrow

The murky waters of immigration law are not those you should navigate on your own. The wrong steps and turns can leave you in the custody of the Federal government, on a plane ticket “home” to a country you have little to no connection to or inadmissible in the future. Be thorough in your approach and diligent in your efforts.

If it is criminal counsel that you need or legal representation only from an immigration attorney, Crotty Saland PC is prepared to put your best defense forward to preserve your legal status so you, not the United States Government, decide your future in America.

Call the New York immigration lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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