Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conduct

Immigration Consequences of Criminal ConductEvery year, thousands of immigrants, many of them long-time these were minor and many may have been committed many years ago. However, there is no statute of limitations in removal proceedings. Many of these offenses are classified as “aggravated felonies” although they are neither “aggravated” nor are they “felonies”. Others are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude”. An example of this is a shoplifting conviction. However, the immigration consequences of criminal conduct, whether or not there is a conviction, may be deportation.

While a conviction may be expunged for many purposes, this does not wipe your record clean for immigration purposes. Conduct which does not count as a conviction for criminal purposes may be still be considered as a conviction in Immigration Court. Confusing? Very!


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We represent many foreign-born persons who the government is trying to deport for minor offenses which occurred years ago. For example, we are currently opposing the deportation of a Canadian man nearing retirement whose wife and two married daughters are U.S. citizens. His crime? He pled nolo contendre to a marijuana possession charge when he was a teenager!

The U.S. Supreme Court has held in 2010 that it is the duty of criminal attorneys to advise immigrant defendants of the deportation consequences of pleading guilty or nolo contendre to a criminal offense. However, the complexity surrounding this issue is simply mind-boggling! Will you be subject to the “categorical” approach or the “modified categorical” approach? Would a particular conviction render you removable, inadmissible, or both?

If this is confusing to you, it is all the more reason to hire an immigration attorney who is experienced in the immigration consequences of criminal conduct. He or she can analyze your case and see whether you are removable from the United States, and if so, whether you are eligible for various forms on relief including adjustment of status, asylum, cancellation of removal, waivers, etc. If you are an immigration attorney, or a person who may be subject to deportation, we hope that the resources listed below are helpful to you.


General Resources – Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conduct


BIA Case Decisions – Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conduct


Significant Federal Court Decisions Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conduct


Practice Advisories – Immigration Consequences of Criminal Conduct

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