How a Criminal Offense Can Affect Immigration Status

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How a Criminal Offense Can Affect Immigration Status

Many things can affect a person’s immigration status, including criminal offenses. A crime committed in a person’s home country, or once they have obtained immigration status in the United States, can both affect that person’s status. In some cases, a conviction for a criminal offense can even lead to deportation. Not all crimes are considered equal under immigration law, however. Below is an explanation of what criminal offenses are likely to affect a person’s immigration status, and which ones are not.

Crimes Committed Outside of the United States

Before an individual can enter the United States to live, even on a temporary basis, their background is thoroughly investigated. This background check will reveal any criminal offenses a person committed in their home country and, for those who have a conviction on their record, this is a real concern. 

Fortunately, most minor criminal convictions are not an obstacle to gaining a green card or other types of immigration status. However, when a person has been convicted of a drug crime, a felony, or any offense that resulted in the applicant serving at least one year in prison, they are unlikely to receive a green card or other types of immigration status.

Crimes Committed Within the United States

The United States government only wants to allow people into the country that are of good moral character. As such, when someone has been granted immigration status and they commit a crime once they are in the country, their status may be in trouble.

Again, petty crimes are not typically a barrier to obtaining a green card. However, if a person commits a crime of moral turpitude within five years of receiving their green card, they can be placed in deportation proceedings. A crime of moral turpitude refers to an act that violates the sentiment of the accepted standard within the community. Fraud and larceny are two of the most common crimes of moral turpitude. Convictions for an aggravated felony can also result in deportation. 

Driving under the influence is one of the most common criminal offenses, but it is important to know that a conviction for a DUI will likely not result in a person losing their immigration status. DUIs are considered driving convictions, which do not affect a person’s status.

How to Remove a Criminal Conviction

Of course, when a criminal conviction does not appear on a person’s criminal record, it cannot be used against them. As such, many people that wish to enter the country look into having these removed. State governments allow people to have their record expunged, which essentially means it is as though it never happened. The requirements for expunging and sealing records vary by state.

Our Illinois Immigration Lawyers can Help with Your Status

There is a lot that can affect your immigration status, and criminal convictions are just one of them. If you are concerned about your status, or you need to obtain immigration status in the country, call our Chicago immigration lawyers at Kriezelman, Burton & Associates, LLC. We will help you navigate the complex immigration system and give you the best chance of success with your case.