Did you know that criminal charges can negatively affect your immigration proceedings? It doesn’t matter whether you are lawfully a permanent resident or have a temporary residence in the United States through a green card; a run-in with the law can significantly affect your immigration proceedings.
If you are caught in such a situation, it’s wise to speak to a lawyer from The Medlin Law Firm. Your attorney can help you or your loved one navigate the after-effects of a criminal charge. But, before we can look at the after-effects of criminal charges on your immigration proceedings, let’s look at the crimes that affect your immigration status.
Types of Criminal Charges that Impact Your Immigration
While nearly all crimes can impact your immigration, not all do. So, what types of criminal charges affect immigration?
- Being charged with the sale of a controlled substance like marijuana
- Conviction of two or more crimes, mainly political crimes
- Having an intention to procure, procurement, or importation of prostitutes either directly or indirectly.
- The case involves an alleged violation of a protection order, like a domestic restraining order.
If you are charged with the above criminal charges, the government will trigger grounds of removal, as they have reason to believe you are an addict or drug abuser.
Arrest Vs. Conviction
Your criminal case’s outcome is crucial to your immigration status. It’s important to remember that an arrest doesn’t signify automatic guilt. A court can impose a sentence if you are found guilty of the charges. However, the prosecuting officer has to prove you are guilty and have the right to defend yourself against criminal charges.
It’s also important to remember that not all arrests become convictions. In most cases:
- The charges are dropped before your case goes to trial
- The judge or jury can find you innocent.
Also, depending on the nature of your crime, a plea deal can help you avoid the consequences of a criminal charge on your immigration status. Now, let’s look at what happens if you are guilty of a criminal charge.
Consequences of a Criminal Charge on Your Immigration Status
One of the major ways a criminal charge can affect your immigration status is deportability or removability. The technical word is removable, and it applies to people with lawful immigration status. They are legally already in the United States, but the criminal charge renders them removable or deportable.
Deportation can also apply to individuals who had lawful immigration status but have at some point fallen out of legal status.
If you are inadmissible to the United States, it means you aren’t allowed admission to the United States. This could be in the form of receiving a green card or applying to change your immigration status.
It Affects Your Ability to Bring Your Family into the United States
Some criminal case convictions can impact your ability to bring your family into the United States. This only happens if your family is dependent on your immigration status. For instance, if you were in the United States with an H1-B visa and are convicted of a criminal charge which violated your immigration status, your family’s legal status can also be in jeopardy.
Reduces Your Chances of Obtaining a Work Visa
Another major consequence of a criminal charge conviction on your immigration status is that it reduces your chances of obtaining a work visa. This would mean that if you have a job offer and your employer is willing to help you acquire a work visa, you would be inadmissible for one if you have a criminal record.
The good news is that depending on your crime, it is possible to ask the U.S. government to overlook the conviction using a U Visa waiver. With a waiver, you have to submit enough discretionary evidence to indicate that your case’s positive aspects outweigh your conviction.
Makes You Ineligible to Renew Your Green Card
A criminal charge can make you ineligible to renew your green card. However, this depends on the charge, as not all criminal charges can render you ineligible. When applying for a green card renewal, disclose your past charges or arrests to help avoid being found ineligible for renewal.
If you are facing criminal charges, it’s best not to risk your immigration status. Therefore, ensure you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer, as this will help improve your outcome. Your lawyer will also help ensure you take the necessary steps to protect your immigration status. Learn how to correctly fill out Form I-130 to increase the chances of petition approval.