The Consequences of Criminal Convictions on Immigration: What You Need to Know

Gaining legal admission to the United States as a foreign national has never been easy, but in recent years the process has become even more challenging. In the face of increasing scrutiny, it’s become more important than ever that your paperwork is in order and you meet or exceed every criterion. At best, a criminal conviction can significantly diminish your chances of being approved for entry; at worst, it can mean deportation.

A criminal conviction’s impact on immigration will depend on two primary factors: What the conviction is for and what your immigration status is. The more severe the crime the greater your likelihood of being deported if you are already in the United States and the smaller your chances of being permitted to enter the country if you are awaiting approval of admission or re-admission to the country. Even legal permanent residents can be deported if they are found guilty of crimes like aggravated felonies or those involving ‘moral turpitude,’ which is defined as those involving fraud, dishonesty, or that are morally reprehensible.

The key thing to remember about seeking citizenship – or even entry to the country, is that the United States has a vested interest in making sure that the people who live here have good moral character. If t you have a visa application pending, such as a tourist visa, a student visa, or a work visa, a criminal conviction can lead to a denial of entry, and if you’re seeking naturalization, some criminal convictions can make you ineligible, or at least extend the amount of time it takes for you to be approved.

The most important thing you can do to overcome the challenges created by a criminal conviction is to make sure you have experienced legal representation. Some tools and strategies can help overcome the hurdles you face, but the only way to take advantage of them is with extensive knowledge. For example, you may be eligible for an immigration bond if you’ve been detained, but that possibility will depend on what you’ve done and what your immigration history is. An experienced immigration attorney knows the ins and outs of these rules. Similarly, you may be eligible for waivers that allow you to overcome the rules surrounding inadmissibility or deportation. All of these decisions are discretionary, and having smart and confident legal representation can make all the difference.

To learn how our experienced immigration attorneys can help you overcome the toughest aspects of immigration, contact us today.