Criminal Issues and U.S. Immigration

Having a criminal record, whether in the United States or overseas, can (for obvious reasons) make it very difficult for someone to either obtain or retain a visa, green card, or other immigration benefit. Contrary to myth, however, the law in this area cannot easily be summarized. For instance, you can’t say something like, “Felonies will bar an immigration application while misdemeanors will not.”

Instead, determining the immigration implications of a crime requires figuring out how the facts and legal description of that particular criminal conviction (which was probably handled under the laws of an individual U.S. state) match up with the descriptions of crimes under the federal immigration law, usually within the grounds of either inadmissibility or deportability.

This is an area that most U.S. criminal lawyers do not understand. Therefore, an immigrant who is arrested for anything while in the United States should consult not only a criminal attorney but an immigration attorney before making a plea agreement or adopting any other defense strategy.  

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