Immigration Consequences of Criminal Offenses
Anyone convicted of a crime in Minnesota may face a variety of consequences based on the specific offense they committed, including fines, probation, imprisonment, and unique sanctions like driver’s license suspension. If you immigrated from another country, however, certain criminal convictions could have severe repercussions, including your removal from the United States.
Likewise, some criminal convictions could delay your pursuit of naturalized citizenship or prevent you from legally immigrating to the United States in the first place. A qualified defense lawyer could explain the immigration consequences of criminal offenses in greater detail during a private consultation.
Criminal Convictions That Could Lead to Deportation
Under federal law, there are specific categories of criminal offenses that may serve as grounds for deportation if a lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylum seeker is convicted of one in state court. These include:
- Offenses involving the illicit use of a firearm or destructive device
- Any crime of domestic violence, including stalking and violations of protective orders
- Any crime against children
- Any controlled substance offense other than one simple possession offense for 30 grams of marijuana or less
- Any crimes of “moral turpitude,” specifically, one such offense within five years of admission to the U.S. that is punishable by greater than one year in prison, or two such offenses committed separately at any time after an immigrant’s legal admission to the U.S.
- Any aggravated felony
Certain theft offenses and various white-collar offenses like bribery and perjury are considered aggravated felonies, even though they are non-violent in nature. A qualified attorney in the area could go into further detail about what kinds of offenses may or may not lead to problems for legal immigrants.
Crimes That Make Someone Inadmissible to the United States
Importantly, certain categories of criminal convictions automatically disqualify someone from legally immigrating to the United States, even if they have family members here. Broadly speaking, anyone previously convicted of two or more offenses punished by an aggregate prison sentence exceeding five years is ineligible to legally immigrate here, as is anyone previously convicted of a controlled substance and/or drug trafficking offense, prostitution, or certain crimes of moral turpitude.
Furthermore, previous convictions for aggravated felonies disqualify someone seeking asylum or refuge. These types of convictions also disqualify current legal residents from seeking withholding of removal based on a fear that their safety will be endangered by deportation to their country of origin.
Could a Criminal Conviction Prevent Citizenship?
One of the key requirements for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen is “good moral character” in the five years preceding an application. Accordingly, certain types of criminal convictions can temporarily bar a legal permanent resident from becoming a citizen, including:
- Controlled substance offenses other than simple possession of 30 grams of marijuana or less
- Two or more offenses resulting in an aggregate prison sentence of at least five years
- Two or more gambling-related offenses
- Imprisonment in state jail for 180 aggregate days
- Multiple crimes involving moral turpitude, or one crimes of moral turpitude punishable by a year or more in prison
Conviction of murder or any aggravated felony permanently bars a legal permanent resident from becoming a citizen of the United States, in addition to making them permanently inadmissible as a legal immigrant following their deportation. If you have any further questions about the impact criminal charges can have on a person’s immigration status, contact a member of the BK Law Group today.