3 times criminal charges can affect immigration status

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Immigration

Immigrants may lawfully enter the country if they have a visa or because they qualify for certain protective programs like asylum. They may have family members or a job opportunity in the United States. They can extend their stay by renewing their visas and complying with all immigration rules.

Many immigrants eventually adjust their status to become lawful permanent residents. Some of those permanent residents eventually become naturalized citizens. Someone’s immigration dreams can come to an abrupt end if they get arrested for a criminal offense.

Mistakes when dealing with the criminal justice system can have major consequences for immigrants. Not all criminal convictions prevent someone from staying in the country or becoming a citizen, but some of them do. When might a criminal conviction result in immigration consequences?

When the charges fall into certain categories

There are certain types of criminal offenses that negatively affect immigration eligibility. Crimes involving family matters like polygamy carry immigration consequences. So do offenses related to prostitution. Violent crimes and crimes related to human trafficking also affect immigration opportunities. Any offense that is a crime of moral turpitude could also have immigration consequences. Crimes that offend public moral sentiment may have significant consequences for an immigrant.

When convictions lead to long sentences

Incarceration in state facilities can impact eligibility for immigration opportunities. Anyone who spends 180 days or more in state facilities serving a sentence could be at risk of removal from the country. The same is true of those facing a long sentence. If the aggregate sentence for various criminal charges amounts to five years in state custody or more, regardless of how much time someone actually serves, that could affect their immigration opportunities.

When crimes relate to addiction

Criminal offenses related to substance abuse disorders also affect immigration opportunities. Someone convicted of offenses that make them habitual offenders could impact immigration opportunities. Even repeat drunk driving offenses can be sufficient reason for someone’s removal from the United States or a denied visa renewal.

The only way to ensure that criminal allegations do not hurt someone’s immigration status is to fight pending charges successfully. Avoiding a criminal conviction prevents the immigration consequences that certain charges carry. Those who respond assertively to criminal allegations are in the best position to maintain their status and remain in the United States.