There are very valid reasons that the United States has such strict rules in place regarding who can enter and live in the country. The government has a vested interest in protecting its citizens, which means preventing the immigration of dangerous people, terrorists and criminals.

Typically, before entering the United States, prospective immigrants must undergo a comprehensive background check. However, once they enter the country, the potential still exists for an immigrant to get charged with a crime.

Certain crimes, such as exceeding the speed limit, don’t really indicate that the person who broke the law is dangerous. However, other crimes could be a strong indicator that an individual poses a threat to those already in the United States.

Which kinds of crimes put an immigrant’s status at risk?

There is no conclusive list of which criminal statutes justify changes to an immigrant’s status or deportation. Instead of having an explicit list that could become quite complicated given the different language and terminology used in different states, the federal government created a basic standard open to interpretation by judges handling immigration cases.

Any offense that constitutes a crime of moral turpitude could have a negative impact on an immigrant’s legal status in the United States. Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes that offend the sense of decency in a community or culture.

Failing to pay parking tickets likely won’t qualify as a crime of moral turpitude, but some forms of theft crime and assault very well could. Given the potential for broad generalizations in both criminal and immigration legal proceedings, it is important for any immigrants facing criminal charges to defend themselves or risk a negative impact on their immigration status.