In order for someone to enter the United States through an employment visa program or under a family visa because a loved one already resides in the United States, the person applying has to pass a relatively thorough background check. The government in the United States will continue to perform background checks each time you reapply for an extension to your visa or a change to your status.
However, even if you already have a visa and are in the United States legally, your status could become vulnerable if you wind up arrested and charged with certain criminal offenses in the United States. Understanding which criminal offenses will have the greatest bearing on your immigration status can help you navigate the complex immigration and legal systems more effectively.
Specific offenses carry higher levels of risk
The legal charges that someone faces will vary depending on a variety of factors. Certain crimes are more serious than others. When it comes to immigration law, aggravated felonies carry significant consequences.
Not all aggravated felonies are technically felony offenses. Some of them are minor offenses such as filing a false tax return or failing to appear in court. Battery, theft, drug trafficking, murder and writing bad checks could all qualify as aggravated felonies.
Those accused of an aggravated felony could face deportation without any kind of removal hearing. Typically, those facing deportation have the right to a hearing, but those with an aggravated felony conviction may not have that right.
There is a lot of interpretive space in immigration law
Even if you have never faced a felony charge or only have minor criminal offenses on your record, it is still possible for you to face deportation or the refusal to renew your visa as a result. Crimes that the state perceives as “crimes of moral turpitude” can also provide justification for deportation efforts.
Moral turpitude is a relatively broad concept, which means any offense that the state can demonstrate shows you have questionable ethics could effectively impact your immigration case. To show that an offense was really a crime of moral turpitude, the prosecution or state must establish that the offense was particularly immoral or contrary to the human decency you would offer to another person.
The risk is there for those who truly do not pose any kind of threat to the community to find themselves facing judicial deportation as a result of a minor offense. The ideal is for those here in the country on a work or family visa to avoid all legal complications, but that isn’t always possible.
The more proactive you are in responding to allegations against you, the better your chances of avoiding a conviction. It is also important to discuss your immigration status and explore your rights anytime you believe that criminal proceedings could have an impact on you.