Sometimes bad things happen to good immigrants. And if you’re a law-abiding, lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States, you could find yourself unexpectedly facing deportation or removal proceedings for something that seems insignificant. How can this happen? It falls under the broad heading of crime – such as an aggravated felony or Crime Involving Moral Turpitude. An aggravated felony doesn’t necessarily involve violence and may not actually be a felony, but it is a broad and evolving list of crimes that has been established by the Congress of the United States that could result in the deportation of a non-citizen. Many of these crimes are identified as “crimes of moral turpitude”, which is a fancy way to describe immoral acts like drug trafficking, prostitution or even being a “habitual drunkard.” These and other seemingly minor offenses – known in New York as Class E Felonies – may not lead to automatic deportation, but require assessment and action by a New York Criminal Immigration Law Firm. Here are a few examples of things that may seem fairly innocent on the surface, but could lead to deportation action if you are convicted of a charge:
You may think of the immigrants and non-immigrants we have described as victims of circumstance, but the criminal legal process may not be so generous in its perspective. Aggressive police, Immigration and Custom Enforcement, prosecutors and judges can make things very difficult for a green card holder or undocumented person who has otherwise been law-abiding. Criminal Convictions can happen very quickly, and deportation can be among the consequences. This is why it’s important to turn to a skilled New York City Criminal Immigration Lawyer. A well-intentioned but overworked public defender could take a plea deal from a prosecutor in the hopes of getting reduced jail time and resolving a case quickly, but the lesser sentence may automatically trigger removal proceedings and that may not be a concern of a public defender.
When it comes to crimes and immigration, the law can be very technical, requiring a NYC Criminal Immigration Lawyer that has the kind of experience and skill that can hopefully help a client to stop a deportation case for criminal activity or earn an immigration waiver for a conviction or guilty plea.
There are various types of immigration waivers that you would need to apply for, and a New York Criminal Immigration Lawyer would know the right one for your situation and can immediately apply for a waiver for criminal activity. A couple of common waivers include:
Yes! If you have a green card you can still be deported if you committed a crime. A green card holder is not a US citizen, but rather a lawful permanent resident. This is an important distinction in the eyes of the law. The easiest test for who is and isn’t a citizen is simply: Can I be issued a US passport? If you were not born in the US or a naturalized American citizen, you cannot be issued a passport. So, if you’ve immigrated from another country and need to travel abroad, you will continue to use the passport of your home country because you are not eligible for a U.S. passport. That said, if you have been convicted of a crime, you may need a criminal immigration waiver and an immigration judge or USCIS will need to waive the conviction to have your green card returned.
Not necessarily. If you want to apply for a green card but you were convicted of a crime and got deported, you may still be eligible for a green card. That depends on the charges that led to your conviction. However, you will need a criminal immigration waiver in order to successfully pursue a new green card or immigrant visa. It’s another long road to travel, but a good NYC Criminal Immigration Attorney has the map and knows the shortest route to this goal.
Yes! a criminal charge that seems minor my lead to deportation if you are convicted. It often depends on the criminal charge and the circumstances that led to it, which can evolve in a manner that could lead to a deportation action. A skilled New York Criminal Immigration Lawyer will have the know-how to stop things before they snowball.
While the Trump administration has pursued a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal immigrants and you are technically in the country illegally because you overstayed your visa without authorization, things could still turn out okay. The DUI and marijuana charge (since it’s likely below the threshold of 30 grams – an average joint contains around 0.5 grams of pot) are things that can be waived by an immigration judge. But this is probably a complicated and bumpy road. Immigration law would require you to prove that removal would be a hardship on your family (parent, spouse and/or child), that you’ve been in the country at least 10 years, that you haven’t been convicted of a previous offense, and/or that you can establish “good moral character.” Even if you check all those boxes, it doesn’t guarantee that you will not be deported. A New York Criminal Immigration Lawyer knows how to present your case in a way that should give you a fighting chance of earning a favorable ruling.
Yes! Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, conviction of a non-citizen for an act of domestic violence can result in deportation. Taking care to understand the circumstances of the case and to steer the charges away from what could be deemed an “aggravated felony” and result in a potential deportation action is the kind of help you should expect from a New York Criminal Immigration Attorney.
The list of “aggravated felonies” is constantly evolving, which makes assessing a criminal charge tricky. This is why calling a New York Criminal Immigration Attorney is a smart move. The term “aggravated felonies” is a term of art in the legal profession, meaning that it’s understood by immigration lawyers and judges, but not really designed to be understood by people outside the profession. However, if something you’re being charged with carries a term of one year in jail or more, then there is a good chance that this could be considered an “aggravated felony.”
You’re right: lawyers can be expensive. But you will pay less at the beginning of a cycle than at the end. When you begin fighting an action that just began, you’re fighting one charge but stopping a second problem from ever happening. If you wait, you’ll have to fight a conviction and a deportation action. By taking swift action, the criminal immigration attorney can stop problems before they occur and you will end up paying less. If you want, think of it like a New Yorker: you’re in Central Park and you can take a cab just to Penn Station or to Kennedy Airport and then to Penn Station. You know that with the meter running all the way, the second route is going to cost you a whole lot more.
Law firms can specialize in various areas of the law or can be more general practices. If you are seeking someone to help you with a criminal immigration problem that could lead to or has already led to a deportation action being started, you absolutely should seek a firm that has both immigration and criminal law expertise. At Feiner & Lavy, we pride ourselves on our record as a top immigration law firm that has branched out to have had a track record of success in criminal immigration matters for non-citizens. And it is important that a firm has a good stable of associates if a criminal area requires a specific kind of expertise. Plus, in addition to English, our legal team is able to help clients who are more comfortable speaking Hebrew and Spanish.
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