Practice Areas: Criminal Convictions
Foreign nationals convicted of certain crimes face extremely serious immigration consequences, including removal (deportation) from the United States and inadmissibility to the U.S. (not permitted to enter). Even persons who have engaged in criminal activity but were not convicted can face removal (deportation) and inadmissibility. What might be considered a minor offense in the criminal justice world, even an expunged conviction, can mean major trouble in the immigration context. Some criminal activity can result in mandatory detention by immigration authorities.
Long-time lawful permanent residents (green card holders) with old convictions are not exempted. Immigration law has changed over the years and penalties often apply retrospectively. Criminal misconduct that may have not been considered a deportable offense some years ago, may now make an individual removable (deportable.) A long-time lawful permanent resident (green card holder) with an old criminal history should seek the advice of a competent immigration attorney before applying for naturalization and before traveling outside the United States - even if the person has traveled abroad in the past and re-entered the U.S. without any problems!
In some cases, a foreign national can request that certain grounds for inadmissibility or removal be "waived" (pardoned) by submitting a waiver application.
Foreign nationals who have had contact with law enforcement authorities should not delay in contacting an immigration attorney who can advise on the potential immigration consequences of the criminal charges. An immigration attorney can work collaboratively with a foreign national's criminal defense attorney and help to minimize the risk of a conviction that could trigger removability (deportation).