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A long jail or prison sentence could lead to deportation

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Crimmigration

Immigrants in the United States must follow many rules. They have to submit paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They have to undergo a criminal background check at every stage of the immigration process. They also need to avoid major criminal violations while living in the United States.

Those with visas and even permanent residents are at risk of removal from the country after certain criminal convictions. Most immigrants understand that various major crimes including violent offenses, drug crimes and crimes of moral turpitude could lead to their deportation. Crimes of moral turpitude are offenses that indicate a lack of good moral judgment and character.

Less serious offenses could also affect an immigrant’s status in the United States. Even nonviolent misdemeanor offenses could have immigration consequences. Long sentences and long periods of incarceration could put someone at risk of removal from the country.

How long of a sentence is too long?

Certain kinds of criminal convictions can immediately impact an immigrant’s status. Convictions for crimes related to controlled substances, prostitution, smuggling a person, polygamy, gambling, habitual drunkenness and other unlawful acts can affect someone’s status. A sentence for a minor offense could also impact their immigration rights.

The USCIS has two separate rules regarding incarceration for criminal activity. The first involves the sentence imposed by the courts. Whether someone faces one charge or multiple charges, the total time that they could be in jail could affect their immigration status.

If someone faces an aggregate sentence of five years or longer, that can lead to their removal from the United States. Those who face shorter sentences are also at risk. If someone remains in state custody for 180 days or longer, that is also sufficient reason for the removal from the country. The only exceptions to that rule involve political crimes that lead to incarceration in another country.

Criminal offenses that have minimal impact on citizens could prove devastating for immigrants. Immigrants facing criminal charges often need to respond assertively or risk their future in the United States. Understanding that a long sentence can be enough to endanger someone’s lawful residence could motivate them to fight their pending charges.