The Immigration Consequences of Criminal Actions

February 14, 2014

behind-bars-76714-m.jpgMost foreign nationals are aware that committing certain crimes will result in serious immigration consequences, the most drastic of which being deportation from the United States. It need hardly be stated that very serious crimes such as murder and terrorist acts result in deportation, but there are a number of other offenses, such as possession of certain narcotics and drunk driving, that may also end in removal proceedings.

What Crimes Result in Deportation?

There are multiple categories of crimes that result in deportation (the following categories are for educational and simplification purposes only). First, convictions for controlled substance offenses (except for a single offense for the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana) almost always end in the foreign national's removal from the United States.

Second, crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMTs) make the foreign national deportable. While CIMTs are not defined in immigration law, crimes that have been found to qualify as CIMTs include voluntary manslaughter, rape, murder, kidnapping, child abuse, robbery, embezzlement, and willful tax evasion. The third category is aggravated felonies which are defined in immigration law and include drug trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor and alien smuggling. A fourth category is any conviction relating to the unlawful procurement, possession, or sale of a fireman or other destructive device.

A fifth category is that of espionage, sabotage, treason, and related crimes. Additionally, crimes involving domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, and stalking also result in deportation. Finally, using false or fraudulent immigration documents (such as a forged passport or visa) are also deportable offenses.

Does a Criminal Conviction Automatically Lead to Deportation?

The short answer to this question is no, a criminal conviction may not automatically result in the foreign national's deportation. If that were true, there would be little need for the immigration court system and an even lesser need for immigration attorneys.

It is highly, highly recommended that any foreign national facing criminal charges consult an experienced immigration attorney because the attorney may be able to help the client avoid deportation, either by applying for a waiver or having the criminal charge changed so that it does not fall into one of the deportable offense categories.

No One is Immune from Deportation

No matter how long a foreign national has been in the United States, or the scope of the foreign national's talents, knowledge, or achievements, the individual is still at risk for deportation if the person commits a serious crime. A clear illustration of this point is music sensation and Canadian national Justin Bieber. Mr. Bieber is in the U.S. pursuant to an O-1 visa due to his extraordinary abilities in music. However, he has recently been arrested on criminal charges and may have to face an immigration judge. Even though Mr. Bieber is a pop icon and internationally famous, he will still need to account for actions in immigration court, just like every other foreign national who runs into trouble with the U.S. laws.

The Rant

As stated, it is of the utmost importance that foreign nationals who are facing criminal charges consult with immigration attorneys who may help them navigate through the U.S. penal and immigration court system. There are many resources available for immigrants who require legal assistance. Contact us today to speak to a skilled attorney about your case.

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