Immigration Consequences Of Criminal Charges

If you are not a U.S. citizen and you have been charged with a crime, it is crucial for you to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before making any decisions in the criminal matter, such as accepting a plea bargain or taking your case to trial. A plea offer that is a "good deal" from a criminal law perspective may be a bad deal for your immigration status.

At the law office of Lisa E. Battan, our attorneys can work with you or your criminal defense attorney to make sure that you understand the possible immigration consequences of your criminal matter, and to help you avoid or minimize the adverse immigration consequences. Contact us for experienced advice about how criminal charges may affect your immigration matter.

Even Minor Criminal Charges Can Have Serious Immigration Consequences

It is important to understand that even relatively minor convictions, such as shoplifting or possession of a small amount of marijuana, can have serious and permanent immigration consequences for noncitizens, including lawful permanent residents ("green card" holders).

Certain convictions can make a person who has been "admitted" to the United States with permanent residence (a green card) or visa deportable. The person can be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings because of the conviction, and may be ordered to leave the United States. Some people can be ordered to remain outside the U.S. permanently.

Criminal convictions can also make a person who is seeking to enter the United States from abroad or to get legal immigration status in the United States "inadmissible." People who are inadmissible will be denied visas or permanent resident status. Permanent residents who travel abroad after having been convicted of certain crimes can be arrested, detained and subjected to removal proceedings if they are deemed "inadmissible" when they return to the U.S.

Finally, criminal convictions can make permanent residents ineligible for naturalization (U.S. citizenship). In order to become a U.S. citizen, a person must show that he or she has "good moral character." Certain convictions mean that a person cannot show good moral character. Even convictions that generally do not make a person inadmissible or deportable, such as DUI, could lead to the denial of a naturalization application.

Contact Us Today

The time to speak with an immigration attorney is before you enter a plea. Once you plead guilty to a crime, it can be difficult or impossible to change the plea, even if you later realize it is causing serious problems for your immigration status. Expunging a conviction or sealing your record later will not erase the conviction for purposes of immigration law, and neither will successful completion of a deferred judgment.

If you are a noncitizen and you have ever been convicted of or arrested for a crime, it is essential for you to consult with an immigration attorney before you travel abroad and before you submit any applications to the immigration service. An application for permanent residence, naturalization or a new green card can lead to deportation proceedings instead of an immigration benefit if the applicant has certain criminal issues.

Our firm frequently works with clients and their criminal defense attorneys on matters such as these. If you wish to consult with us, please call our office today at 1-866-614-8668 or contact us online.