Convictions with immigration consequences

Photo by LosAnheles (CC license)

Photo by LosAnheles (CC license)

People who are not U.S. citizens and are in trouble with criminal cases need to be very careful when dealing with the system.

Whether such an accused should plea guilty or not should always involve an analysis as to how this affects immigration consequences. This is because immigration law is very complicated on this subject; a single crime of a certain type will not cause the same effect on everyone.

Instead there are two preliminary elements to analyze. The first is what kind of category the person is defined as under the immigration code. The second is what kind of category the conviction defined as under the immigration code.

The immigration code tends to use the term “alien” broadly; this is not meant to belittle visitors to the United States, but merely denotes someone who is not a citizen of the United States. As such, aliens fall into other categories, not all of which appear here:

–          EWI (entered illegally)

–          overstay (one who entered legally but whose visa expired)

–          asylee/refugee (without status but legal permission to be here based on certain reasons)

–          visa-holder (one who entered legally and has permission to be here)

–          long-time permanent resident (green card holder)

Additionally, criminal convictions fall into numerous categories under the immigration code, not all of which appear here:

–          crime involving moral turpitude

–          aggravated felonies

–          categorical bar conviction

–          petty offense exception

–          small-time marijuana crime exception

–          convictions involving certain time sentenced

–          convictions involving certain time served

–          multiple convictions within a certain time

Because the immigration code splits aliens and crimes into these categories, a single criminal conviction for a non-citizen may or may not cause immigration consequences. To determine these, any legal analysis of the criminal case should always include consultation with an immigration lawyer to see how the immigration law might be triggered by a guilty plea or conviction.

Don’t just take the plea deal without knowing what will be likely to happen next.

DISCLAIMER: Please do not prepare your own documents / filings after reading this blog, without consulting an attorney first about your specific situation. I make no representations or guarantees here as to the applicability of any claim in your specific situation. This blog is ADVERTISING MATERIAL only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, especially if you are not an Illinois resident. Please contact me if you have a legal question or concern, as no attorney-client agreement will exist between myself and any readers of this blog unless it is signed in writing.


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