Can a Green Card Holder be Deported?

A Green Card is the object and goal of nearly every immigrant to the United States. Officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, it is an official identification document that entitles the holder to permanently live and work in the United States. But the term “permanent” does not mean that the individual who has been assigned a green card is invulnerable to deportation. Any immigrant – even one that holds a green card – can be deported if they are convicted of violating certain U.S. laws.

There are two specific categories of crimes that can lead to a green card holder being deported. The one that is easiest to understand is aggravated felony. These crimes include murder and rape, drug or firearms trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, money laundering, and fraud or tax evasion involving more than $10,000. Once convicted of this type of crime, the only way that a green card holder could conceivably avoid deportation would be to prove themselves likely to be tortured in their native country if they were to return.

The other category, crimes of moral turpitude, is less clearly defined, but a variety of courts have issued guidance pointing to “fraud, larceny, and intent to harm persons or things.”  Precedent exists for moral turpitude to include spousal abuse, intent to rob or kill, aggravated driving under the influence, and almost anything that encompasses dishonesty or theft, though there is an exception for crimes that are considered “petty offenses,” which are defined as crimes whose punishment would never exceed a year in jail.

If a court finds that you have committed a crime of moral turpitude, deportation is a possibility if one of the following two criteria are met:

  • You are within the first five years of having been admitted to the United States
  • You have committed and been convicted of two or more crimes of moral turpitude that were not related to a single incident of criminal misconduct

The looseness of the definition of moral turpitude does provide an opportunity for an argument to be made against a green card holder’s deportation, but this requires advocacy from a skilled and experienced immigration attorney.

There are other instances under which a green card holder can be deported, including crimes committed if the individual leaves the country, comes back, and is then put into removal proceedings because their acts made them inadmissible. For complete information and guidance, contact our experienced immigration attorneys today to set up a time for us to chat.