Can Criminal Charges Affect Immigration?
The short answer to this question is, “yes,” but immigration law is never simple. If you are seeking residency in the United States, your criminal record could come into play, depending on the type of charge you faced and the outcome of your case. If you already have a visa or green card, a criminal conviction could initiate removal proceedings (deportation).
A violation of immigration law can lead to deportation, but this isn’t the only deportable offense. More specifically, you could lose your legal status in the U.S. for committing a “crime of moral turpitude.” According to Merriam-Webster®, the word “moral turpitude” refers to an act that “gravely violates” morality.
Simply put, an act of moral turpitude is any offense that demonstrates extreme moral depravity, compared to societal standards. This would include crimes that involve dishonesty, such as theft or fraud. Other crimes of moral turpitude are aggravated assault, murder, spousal abuse, etc.
A vast number of crimes fall into this category. When the court determines whether or not a specific offense involved moral turpitude, it will examine the nature of the crime as it compares to the generic, legal definition of a crime that involves moral turpitude. This definition will depend on the statute used to charge you for the crime.
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