Crime & Immigration: Facing Charges as a Noncitizen

Crimmigration refers to the relationship between criminal law and immigration law. A crimmigration case, for example, may involve an immigrant who has become deportable because of their criminal history.

Especially in recent years, the U.S. government has devoted substantial resources to crimmigration cases. Adjudicating officers scrutinize applications and conduct thorough background checks before admitting foreign citizens into the United States, and the Trump administration has worked to expedite removal processes for those who entered without inspection or became deportable due to alleged criminal conduct.

To give yourself the highest possible likelihood of obtaining the status you seek (and to keep yourself from losing that status once you obtain it), you will want to learn everything you can about crimmigration. You can then avoid risks, exercise your rights, and know when it’s time to hire an attorney.

Here are a few examples of crimes that generally allow the U.S. government to deny you entry, deny you a green card, or deport you from the United States:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude. A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is a loosely defined term, referring to any crime that shocks the public conscience because it is done recklessly or with evil intent. Unfortunately, there is no hard line that defines a crime as a CIMT. Whether it affects your admissibility or jeopardizes your current status depends on many different factors (e.g. your immigration situation, the specific crime, how many crimes you committed, your intention, etc.).
  • Controlled substance offenses. From simple possession to drug trafficking, different types of controlled substance offenses will have different levels of impact on your admissibility or status. Simple possession, for example, may not prevent you from entering or remaining in the U.S. if you manage to obtain a waiver.
  • Aggravated felonies. Aggravated felonies are the most damaging type of conviction for immigrants. If you are convicted of an aggravated felony, you are generally ineligible for a waiver. Drug trafficking is one example of an aggravated felony.

If you have been accused or convicted of any of the above or other types of crimes, you will need the counsel and representation of a highly experienced attorney who can fight for your rights in a court of law. Although the U.S. government strives to maintain a zero-tolerance policy against crime, you may have several options at your disposal, and a skilled attorney can help you overcome barriers related to crimmigration.

Staying Safe from Deportation

If your goal is to live and work in the U.S. permanently and without fear of deportation, you may consider applying for citizenship (naturalization) as soon as you become eligible. U.S. citizens can never be deported unless the government discovers that the person’s citizenship was obtained through fraud. The path to citizenship, however, will take years of preparation and care.

First, you will need to obtain an immigrant visa and successfully enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Alternatively, you may adjust your status to permanent residence if you were already in the U.S. lawfully.

Once you become a permanent resident, you will need to closely follow all the terms of your immigration status, as well as all local, state, and federal laws. If you are accused of a crime during this period, you will need dedicated advocacy from an experienced attorney. Once you maintain permanent residence for five years and meet all other requirements for citizenship, you may apply for naturalization. If you pass your naturalization interview, you can then enjoy all the rights and benefits of U.S. citizenship—including permanent protection against deportation.

Retain Support from a Law Firm You Can Trust

No matter what stage of the process you are currently experiencing, our attorney at The Law Office of Yifei He, PLLC is ready to step in and provide the skillful advocacy you need. He can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and, if needed, he is fully prepared to develop and implement an effective deportation defense strategy.

Let us help you navigate the complexities and challenges of crimmigration law. Call 1 (917) 338-7678 or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation today.