Corporations / Employees
If you are an immigrant in the US and are facing criminal charges, even if they are just misdemeanors, it is crucial to have an attorney who has a deep understanding of the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. This is because the rules that govern immigration adjudications are complicated and often counterintuitive. This is partly because immigration authority is derived from federal statute and international agreements, while criminal charges are handled at the state level. For these reasons, if you are facing such a situation, it will be in your best interest to secure the support of an attorney experienced in the field, who can determine how a particular criminal charge will affect your immigration status, and what measures might best be deployed to mitigate any negative outcomes.
In 1996, Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) that included an overly broad definition of what constitutes a conviction, and defined several crimes traditionally classed with misdemeanors as aggravated felonies, which are mandatory triggers for deportation. The inadmissibility statutes are found in INA Section 212, while the statute listing the crimes that make will render a person inadmissible are found in Section 212(a)(2). For immigration purposes, these crimes are considered to be disqualifying
1. Aggravated felonies: The aggravated felony in the green card application processing is different from the general definition under the federal laws. The list of aggravated felonies created by Federal Immigration and Nationality Act that makes a green card applicant inadmissible include:
Sexual abuse of minor
Illicit trafficking of destructive devices or firearms
Violence or theft
Money laundering for over $10,000
Violation of religious freedom
2. Crimes involving moral turpitude: These refer to crimes committed with malicious intent and includes defrauding or physically harming another person. Crimes that can be included under Crimes of moral turpitude are murder, stealing, fraud, severe violence or domestic violence. Malicious intent differentiates between whether you actually committed the offense or just conspired or made an attempt to do so.
3. Drug related crime: If you have been involved in any drug related crime you will be inadmissible to the US. This includes possession or trafficking of certain drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine.
Similarly, when you apply for a visa or green card, you are asked during the processing phase to state if you have ever been convicted for a crime or arrested. Always be truthful when providing statements or answering questions for US government agents and representatives – they are trained to rigorously seek out the truth of a matter if there is the slightest hint of untruthfulness or evasiveness on your part. If you do end up caught in a lie, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, you will be made ineligible for any US immigration benefit in the future. So, if you do have any sort of criminal record that could be verified during a background check, take care and consult an experienced immigration attorney about how best to proceed. There is almost always an advantageous approach to handling these problems with honesty and clarity, but without the guidance of a qualified and experienced attorney the potential for a calamitous misstep is far too great.