An individual’s criminal record has a direct impact on their immigration opportunities. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) performs thorough background checks when initially granting someone a visa to travel to the United States.
Background checks are also part of the status adjustment process when people apply for a green card, and anyone who hopes to become a citizen will need to undergo another background check. Those in the country on a visa or with a green card are theoretically still at risk of removal after a criminal arrest. They could also risk becoming ineligible to renew their green card or visa. These are three of the most common reasons that criminal charges could affect someone’s immigration situation.
1. It is a violent offense or a crime of moral turpitude
The USCIS looks carefully at the type of crime to determine whether someone’s presence in the United States could be reason for concern. Those accused of violent criminal acts against another person could very well lose their right to remain in the United States.
Other offenses that a judge considers crimes of moral turpitude can also affect immigration opportunities. Drug offenses and crimes involving children often fall into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, which probably means crimes that offend moral sensibilities.
2. The offense leads to five years in custody
The sentence handed down in relationships criminal charges can also influence immigration rights. Someone facing a single major offense is of serious concern, but so is someone facing multiple minor charges. If the offenses result in a combined sentence of five years or longer, the defendant’s immigration status may be at risk.
3. Substance-related offenses
Any controlled substance violation, other than a minor marijuana possession offense, could affect an immigrant’s rights. In fact, even drunk driving charges can impact immigration rights if someone has two or more convictions on their record. Habitual drunkenness can also lead to someone’s removal from the country.
Criminal infractions that may seem minor can actually have a major impact on an immigrant’s future. Defending against criminal charges is often very important for those living as immigrants in the United States, as this effort – along with skilled legal assistance – can help to safeguard them against removal proceedings.