New York Immigration Crimes Lawyer
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles applying for a green card and most aspects of naturalization and citizenship for foreign born individuals who have immigrated to the US. However, when there is a problem due misstatements on the application, violation of the visa, or when criminal acts are committed by the individual Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often becomes involved. ICE is the enforcement arm of the federal government that is in charge of seeing that more than 400 federal statutes are respected by visitors, green card holders and legal permanent residents.
What many immigrants to the United States don’t realize until it is too late is that the actions they take shortly after being accused of a crime or other impropriety can end up be determinative as to whether they will be allowed to remain in the country or be able to achieve US citizenship.
What are the typical consequences of immigration crimes?
For an individual who is seeking to remain in the United States so that he or she can achieve US citizenship nearly any criminal act can be considered an immigration crime because conviction, or even allegations of wrong-doing, can affect your ability to remain in the country. This is commonly referred to as “collateral consequences” in the immigration world. Collateral consequences are those that go beyond the formal penalties that are statutorily defined.
Aggravated felony convictions can lead to removal from the United States
An aggravated felony is one class of crime that can lead not only to criminal consequences for legal permanent residents and green card holders, but also severe immigration consequences. Those who omit crimes that are considered aggravated felonies face immigration consequences including:
- Removal from the United States (deportability)
- Ineligibility for US citizenship
- Ineligibility for voluntary departure from the US
- Ineligibility for most types of immigration waivers
- If removed, the individual will be permanently inadmissible to the United States
- If the individual attempts to reenter the US after removal, they could face 20 years in prison
The crimes that can be considered an aggravated felony is rather expansive. While violent crimes like murder, rape, any crime of violence with a sentence of 1 year or more and sexual abuse of a child are predictably included, a number of other non-violent offenses are also typically considered aggravated felonies. For instance, trafficking in firearms or drugs is also considered an aggravated felony. Furthermore, prostitution offenses, bribery, fraud, certain bail-jumping offenses, forgery, firearm convictions, domestic violence convictions and obstruction of justice are all crimes that can be considered aggravated felonies.
Crimes can make you ineligible to enter or re-enter the United States.
The conviction of certain crimes can make an individual inadmissible to the United States. Inadmissibility means that they will not be permitted to pass through a customs check point and enter into the United States. These collateral consequences can apply to noncitizens who are seeking lawful admission to the US or legal permanent residents who have traveled outside of the country. The four main classes of crimes that will make an individual inadmissible to the US are:
- Controlled substance offenses – Conviction of most drug offenses, the admission of being a drug dealer, or reasonable belief by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the individual is a drug dealer will make that person ineligible to enter the US. Except for instances involving the simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, a 212(h) waiver is not applicable.
- Crimes involving moral turpitude – These types of crimes typically involve dishonesty or an intent to steal or defraud, many sex offenses, and crimes where bodily harm is caused or threatened.
- Conviction of 2 or more offenses of any type — When the aggregate prison sentence for the offenses is 5 or more years, the individual will become inadmissible to the US.
- Commercialized vice – This includes crimes like prostitution, gambling offenses and other illegalized forms of vice.
The above provides only general outline of the grounds of inadmissibility. Additionally, the four grounds for inadmissibility, 2 or more gambling offense or confinement to jail for 180 days or more will make an individual ineligible for citizenship for 5 years on character grounds. Conviction of an aggravated felony will permanently bar a finding of good moral character making the individual ineligible for US citizenship. However, your circumstances, legal status, immigration status, and other factors should be reviewed by an experienced immigration attorney prior to taking any action or making any admissions.
Rely on our criminal and immigration experience
If you are a green card holder or legal permanent resident in the US, being charged with a crime can result in consequences that go far beyond the typical criminal consequences and penalties. Discussing you criminal and immigration concerns with an experienced attorney at the outset can help prevent mistakes that could jeopardize your ability to remain in the United States or to achieve citizenship. For a free legal consultation, call (800) 730-0135 or contact us online.