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There are two main ways that criminal convictions can impact a person’s immigration status – inadmissibility and removability (meaning “deportability”).

Immigration laws impose severe sanctions on foreign-born persons who are convicted of crimes or associated with criminal activity. .

The interaction between immigration and criminal laws is extensive and complicated. The immigration consequences of criminal convictions or criminal activity can be most severe, and some, like deportation, may be permanent.

A broad range of criminal convictions trigger immigration consequences. Moreover, the length and type of sentence may determine whether a respondent is subject to removal, eligible for relief from removal, or qualified to become a naturalized citizen. Specific criminal activity and the immigration consequences if convicted of such activity are varied. Four of these categories, many of which overlap, are:

In the context of deportation proceedings in the US, it is important to understand the definition of, and the difference between, the terms Admissibility and Removability:

Admissibility is the determination made as to whether an alien is entitled to enter the United States as an immigrant or as a nonimmigrant. A removal proceeding brought upon charges of “inadmissibility” is an administrative proceeding in which it will be determined whether the alien applicant is admissible. This often entails the legal fiction that an alien who is physically present for such proceedings is not yet within the United States.

Removability (Deportability) is the determination made when an alien is alleged or found not to be entitled to remain in the United States. A removal proceeding based upon charges of “deportability” is an administrative proceeding in which the government bears the burden of proving that the alien is in the United States in violation of law. One who is found deportable is either “removed” (deported) or allowed to depart voluntarily under an administrative procedure called voluntary departure.

Preferably, a non-citizen charged with a criminal offense should consult with a lawyers who are well-versed in both criminal and immigration law. This way the non-citizen can be sure that he is considering all potential consequences of his or her plea or conviction.

Once an individual’s criminal case concludes, an immigration attorney can determine the consequences of the conviction, if any, under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Individuals who have engaged in criminal activity face expulsion from the United States as either inadmissible or deportable individuals. With some exceptions, this determination is made in the context of removal proceedings in front of the Immigration Judge. An immigration attorney can represent the individual in defending against the charges of inadmissibility or deportability and in seeking relief from removal for which the individual may be eligible. Even if he or she is placed in proceedings in Immigration Court, an immigration attorney can also advise the individual regarding the effects of a conviction on applications for immigration benefits or travel outside of the United States. Certain grounds of inadmissibility can be “waived” or pardoned by submitting waiver applications in conjunction with visa applications or applications for relief from removal. Thus, it is always important to consult with an immigration attorney upon any criminal misconduct or contact with law enforcement authorities.

For assistance with these complicated, and life-changing issues, call Muhaien & Muhaisen, LLC at 303-407-0453 if you already have criminal conviction(s) or 303-872-0084 if you have an open criminal matter. You can also contact us via our form:

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Muhaisen & Muhaisen, LLC. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction