This overview of the immigration consequences associated with criminal convictions has been provided to us by our friend Beckie Moriello, owner of the Raleigh Immigration Law Firm.
If you weren't born in the US, you MUST consider any possible ramifications to your immigration status when deciding how to resolve a criminal charge or traffic ticket. The below information is a starting point in learning about what the consequences to your immigration status might be. There are often multiple ways to resolve a criminal charge, and it's sometimes possible to AVOID the immigration consequences!
“Crimmigration” law is a highly specialized field, full of nuance. Exceptions exist for nearly every rule. The following is solely meant to be a starting point, and cannot be relied upon as the final word. Consult with a specialist in immigration law to understand the best options for your specific situation.
Green Card Holders
If you’re a Lawful Permanent Resident (also known as having a Green Card), many criminal convictions have no effect at all on your immigration status. The conviction that surprises most people is DWIs. You can’t lose your green card due to NC DWI convictions. However, crimes that fall into the category of “crime involving moral turpitude” (which generally includes crimes involving fraud or theft) can cause you to be put into deportation proceedings. Even more dangerous for an LPR is an “aggravated felony” conviction. Note that aggravated felony is an immigration term, not a criminal one, so don’t rely on your criminal defense attorney telling you that your crime isn’t “aggravated.” An aggravated felony will make you ineligible for most defenses to your deportation. See here for a list of aggravated felonies and further discussion, and see here for some examples of NC convictions that have been determined to be aggravated felonies. See below for a list of some common aggravated felonies.
- Alient Smuggling
- Child Pornography
- Crime of Violence
- Drug Offenses
- Illegal Re-Entry
- Tax Evasion
TPS Holders (Temporary Protected Status)
The general rule for TPS is that any felony conviction or 2 misdemeanor convictions will make you ineligible to keep your TPS, and therefore at risk of deportation. See here for details about what TPS is.
DACA Holders (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
The general rule for DACA is that any felony, significant misdemeanor, or 3 other misdemeanor convictions will make you ineligible to keep your DACA, and therefore at risk of deportation. See here for an overview of what DACA is.
Non-Immigrant Visa Holders (These are visas issued for temporary purposes, such as tourism, education, or temporary work that isn’t a path to a green card.)
On one hand, one could say that non-immigrant visa holders only need to concern themselves with the grounds of deportability while they’re in the US and the grounds of inadmissibility while they’re trying to enter. However, these visas can be denied on discretion for convictions that don’t fall under these categories. For example, it’s common for someone already in the US on a non-immigrant visa to have that visa revoked for a DWI conviction, even though a DWI is neither a crime of deportability nor inadmissibility.
Undocumented people can be deported despite never being charged with a crime. That said, some crimes will make it more likely for a person to be deported than others, though the criminal record is only one factor that USCIS and the immigration judges look at. In addition to the above-mentioned crimes that can cause an LPR or non-immigrant visa holder to get deported, undocumented people need to be extremely cautious with DWI and Assault on a Female convictions. While neither of these fit into another category, they are by far the most common crimes that cause undocumented people to get deported in NC.
We hope that this overview has been helpful. Before making a decision on whether or not to take a plea deal, it’s vital that anyone who was not born in the US have a consultation with an attorney that specializes in immigration law. Click the button below to learn make an appointment to speak with someone at the Raleigh Immigration Law Firm today.