Immigrants only have temporary authorization to live in the United States, and mistakes they make can lead to removal from the country. If they want to stay here or become citizens, immigrants must meet certain criteria and comply with domestic laws.
Criminal background checks play a major role in someone’s initial application for a visa and their request to adjust their status and become a permanent resident. Even those who have lived in the country for years and who want to pursue naturalization will have to undergo another background check before their naturalization interview.
Even if you passed the initial background check without issue, you may have faced criminal charges while living in the United States. Some criminal activity could have a negative effect on your immigration rights. When will criminal charges potentially prevent you from staying in the country or lead to your removal?
When the charges are sufficiently serious
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has very specific rules regarding criminal records among those seeking visas, green cards or citizenship. Many felony offenses can affect your immigration rights, especially if the courts view the offense as a crime of moral turpitude.
Any criminal charge that leads to 180 days or more in state custody or multiple charges with an aggregate sentence of five years could be enough to affect your eligibility for naturalization or your right to renew a visa later. Violent offenses and crimes that offend moral sensibilities are more likely than traffic infractions or minor property crimes to trigger immigration consequences.
When the charges affect their employment
Employers that have a zero-tolerance policy for criminal convictions May terminate you after they find out about your recent charges, and companies negatively affected by criminal activity will typically fire the workers involved.
Many people enter the country through non-immigrant work visas and then stay when they qualify for a green card. If you lose your job before you have been in the country long enough to become a permanent resident, you will only have a brief window of opportunity to secure another job before you face removal.
Evaluating your situation to determine the best response in criminal court can help you protect your immigration status when facing charges.