Call now. We Fight. You Win.


Understanding the Impact of Criminal Charges on Immigration Status

Criminal Charges

Welcome to Curcio Anderson Law’s comprehensive guide on “Understanding the Impact of Criminal Charges on Immigration Status.” In the United States, the intersection of criminal charges and immigration status can have significant consequences for individuals and families seeking to establish a secure life. Navigating the legal system when facing both criminal charges and immigration issues can be complex and overwhelming. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the potential impact and seek professional legal guidance to protect your immigration status and rights.

How Criminal Charges Affect Immigration Status

When facing criminal charges, it’s important to recognize how these charges can influence your immigration status. Immigration authorities take criminal convictions seriously, and they can affect different immigration statuses in various ways:

Non-Immigrant Visas:

    • Criminal charges can lead to visa denials or visa revocations.
    • A criminal record may impact visa renewals or extensions.
    • Certain criminal convictions can render you ineligible for specific non-immigrant visas.

Non-immigrant visas, such as work visas, student visas, or tourist visas, are temporary visas issued for specific purposes. If you have a criminal history or pending criminal charges, it can raise concerns for immigration officials. They may question your eligibility for the visa or consider you a potential risk to the United States. Even if you have already been granted a visa, a subsequent criminal charge or conviction could lead to visa revocation or denial of visa extensions.

Green Cards (Lawful Permanent Resident Status):

    • Criminal charges can trigger deportation proceedings and put your green card status at risk.
    • Some criminal offenses may lead to the denial of a green card application.
    • Applying for citizenship with a criminal record can result in naturalization denials.

Green cards, or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status, provide individuals with the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely. However, criminal charges can jeopardize this status. If you are an LPR facing criminal charges, certain offenses could lead to deportation proceedings. These offenses are known as “deportable offenses” and can include aggravated felonies, crimes of moral turpitude, drug offenses, and certain firearm-related offenses. It’s essential to be aware that even if you are not convicted of a crime, an arrest or pending charge can still impact your immigration status.

Crimes That Can Affect Immigration Status

Certain criminal offenses carry significant consequences for immigration status. Understanding the nature of these crimes is essential:

Aggravated Felonies:

    • Conviction for an aggravated felony can lead to mandatory deportation and render you inadmissible.
    • Examples of aggravated felonies include drug trafficking, murder, rape, and certain theft offenses.

Aggravated felonies are a category of serious crimes with severe immigration consequences. It’s important to note that the definition of aggravated felonies in immigration law may not always align with state or federal definitions of felonies. As a result, some offenses that are considered misdemeanors under state law could be treated as aggravated felonies in immigration proceedings. Being convicted of an aggravated felony can lead to mandatory deportation, with limited opportunities for relief from removal.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude (CMT):

    • Crimes involving moral turpitude can lead to inadmissibility or deportation.
    • CMT offenses include fraud, theft, and certain violent crimes.

Crimes of moral turpitude are considered acts of dishonesty, fraud, or depravity that go against accepted standards of morality. Conviction for a crime of moral turpitude can lead to inadmissibility, making you ineligible for visas or green cards. Additionally, if you are already in the United States as an LPR, a CMT conviction could trigger deportation proceedings. It’s essential to consult an immigration attorney to determine whether a specific offense falls under the category of crimes of moral turpitude.

Controlled Substance Offenses:

    • Drug-related offenses, even misdemeanor convictions, can impact immigration status.
    • Multiple offenses or convictions involving marijuana can lead to serious consequences.

Controlled substance offenses are a common reason for immigration-related issues. Convictions related to drug offenses, including possession, distribution, or trafficking of controlled substances, can lead to inadmissibility or deportation. Even misdemeanor convictions for drug-related offenses can have severe consequences for immigration status. For instance, a single conviction for possession of marijuana could result in inadmissibility or impact your eligibility for certain immigration benefits.

It’s essential to consider the immigration consequences of controlled substance offenses, especially in light of evolving state laws regarding marijuana. While some states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, federal immigration law still considers marijuana-related offenses as grounds for inadmissibility and deportation.

Grounds for Inadmissibility and Deportation

Inadmissibility refers to the circumstances that can make an individual ineligible for a visa or green card, while deportation involves the removal of a person from the United States. Some common grounds for inadmissibility and deportation include:

Criminal Grounds:

    • Conviction of certain crimes can lead to inadmissibility or deportation.
    • Crimes related to moral turpitude, drug offenses, and aggravated felonies are among the most common.

Criminal grounds of inadmissibility encompass a broad range of offenses, including crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance offenses, human trafficking, and money laundering. If you have been convicted of one or more of these offenses, you may be deemed inadmissible to the United States. Additionally, crimes related to national security, espionage, or terrorism can also lead to inadmissibility.

It’s essential to understand that immigration law looks at the elements of the offense and not the actual sentence imposed by the court. Even if your criminal offense resulted in a relatively minor penalty, it could still trigger immigration consequences.

Security Grounds:

    • Involvement in terrorism or espionage can result in inadmissibility or deportation.
    • Membership in certain extremist groups may also lead to immigration consequences.

Security grounds of inadmissibility are concerned with individuals who may pose a risk to the security of the United States. This category includes individuals involved in terrorism, espionage, or activity that endangers U.S. national security. Involvement with terrorist organizations or extremist groups can lead to inadmissibility and deportation.

Health-Related Grounds:

    • Communicable diseases or lack of required vaccinations can make an individual inadmissible.

Health-related grounds of inadmissibility focus on protecting public health in the United States. Individuals with certain communicable diseases or those who have not received required vaccinations may be deemed inadmissible. Inadmissibility based on health grounds aims to prevent the spread of contagious diseases within the country.

Immigration Court Proceedings and Defense Strategies

Facing immigration court proceedings requires strategic planning and skilled legal representation. Key aspects to consider include:

Bond Hearings:

    • Understanding the process of requesting bond hearings to secure temporary release from detention.

If you or a loved one is detained by immigration authorities, a bond hearing can provide an opportunity to secure temporary release from detention while your case is pending. During the bond hearing, the immigration judge will assess the flight risk and danger posed by the individual. A skilled immigration attorney can present evidence and arguments to increase the likelihood of a favorable bond decision.

Removal Proceedings:

    • The importance of mounting a strong defense to challenge deportation.
    • Exploring potential relief options, such as cancellation of removal or asylum claims.

Removal proceedings, also known as deportation proceedings, are initiated when an individual faces deportation due to violations of immigration law. It’s crucial to mount a strong defense to challenge the deportation and explore potential relief options that may be available. For example, if you have been a lawful permanent resident for a certain period and meet specific criteria, you may be eligible for cancellation of removal, allowing you to stay in the United States.

Asylum claims can also be an essential defense strategy if you fear persecution in your home country. Applying for asylum may allow you to obtain protection and legal status in the United States.

Appeals and Relief:

    • Exploring the possibility of appealing decisions or seeking other forms of relief from removal.

If you receive an unfavorable decision from the immigration court, you may have the option to appeal the decision. Appealing a removal order involves presenting your case to a higher authority, such as the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the appeals process and identify potential grounds for appeal.

In addition to appeals, there are various forms of relief from removal that may be available based on your specific circumstances. Relief options can include asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), adjustment of status, and more. An immigration attorney can assess your case and determine the most appropriate relief strategy.


Navigating the complexities of criminal charges and their impact on immigration status requires knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel. Curcio Anderson Law is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation to protect your rights and immigration status. Contact our team of experts today to discuss your case!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Yes, an arrest can affect your immigration status, especially if it results in a criminal charge or conviction. Immigration authorities may consider arrests during visa applications or other immigration processes, leading to potential issues with your status.

If you are arrested, it’s essential to seek legal counsel immediately. An experienced immigration attorney can guide you on how to navigate the situation and minimize potential negative consequences on your immigration status.

It depends on the nature of the criminal record. Some criminal convictions can render you ineligible for certain visas, while others may not have a significant impact. Seeking legal guidance is essential to understand your specific situation.

Applying for a visa with a criminal record can be a complex process, as each case is unique. Factors such as the type of offense, the severity of the offense, and the length of time since the conviction can all play a role in the visa application decision. An immigration attorney can assess your criminal record and advise you on the best course of action.

“Good moral character” is one of the requirements for naturalization. USCIS considers your conduct during the statutory period before applying for naturalization. Criminal convictions may affect your ability to meet this requirement.

To be eligible for naturalization, you must demonstrate good moral character for the required statutory period. USCIS reviews your criminal record and any other conduct during this time to determine if you meet this requirement. Certain criminal convictions or a pattern of criminal behavior can raise concerns about your moral character. An immigration attorney can help you assess your eligibility for naturalization and guide you on the best approach.

A single DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction may not lead to deportation in all cases. However, multiple DUI convictions or DUIs involving aggravating factors could result in immigration consequences.

DUI convictions can be considered crimes involving moral turpitude, depending on the circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction. While a single DUI may not trigger immediate deportation, it could be a factor that leads to deportation proceedings, especially if there are additional aggravating factors or multiple DUI convictions.

Yes, you can appeal a deportation order. The process involves filing an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). An experienced immigration attorney can guide you through the appeal process.

If you receive an unfavorable decision in immigration court, you have the right to appeal the decision to the BIA. The appeal must be filed within a specific time frame and must present legal arguments supporting why the immigration judge’s decision was incorrect. An immigration attorney can assist you in preparing a strong appeal and representing your case before the BIA.

Yes, there are waivers available for some criminal grounds of inadmissibility. For instance, a waiver may be available if you can prove extreme hardship to a qualifying relative. Consult an attorney to explore waiver options.


Quick Contact

Table of Contents

Contact us