A Brief Q&A on Criminal Convictions and Immigration

Criminal convictions can ruin your chances of becoming a U.S. resident and may lead to deportation. The more you know about how the system works, the better your chances are of staying in the United States. Let’s look at the basics of criminal convictions for those trying to gain citizenship.

Q: Can You Be Deported for Any Criminal Conviction?

Probably, but as with anything in the legal world, it depends on the circumstances. A wide range of crimes can lead to deportation. These include:

  • Aggravated felonies such as murder, drug or firearms trafficking, rape, or child pornography.
  • Any drug convictions, except simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana for your own personal use.
  • Any firearms convictions such as unlawful gun possession
  • Crimes of moral turpitude like theft, manslaughter or murder, or sexual crimes, committed within 5 years of entering the U.S.
  • Domestic violence including child abuse or neglect, violation of a protection order, or stalking
  • Other criminal activity including sabotage, treason, or espionage.

Q: Can You Be Deported If Your Criminal Case Is on Appeal?

Because the decision isn’t final, you cannot be deported when your conviction is on appeal. However, if you file a motion to vacate your conviction or a habeas corpus petition, the conviction is still final and the government can remove you while you wait for the court’s decision regarding the motion to vacate or habeas corpus petition.

Q: Can Anything Be Done to Change a Criminal Conviction?

With the help of a Miami immigration attorney at Saleh & Associates, you can request that the criminal court erase or vacate your criminal conviction based on specific reasons. For example, if the judge didn’t warn you that your guilty plea could lead to deportation before you entered it, you may have a case. The same goes for other situations where you didn’t understand or were not properly explained your rights before entering your plea. If the court does decide to vacate your conviction, the prosecution can charge you again if they want to, but they don’t always do so. Find an immigration lawyer who understands criminal law and its effect on immigration status for your best case results.

Something else you can do is file a motion to revoke or reduce your sentence, as some crimes are only considered aggravated felonies if you have a sentence of one year or longer. If the judge lowers your sentence, you may be able to stay in the U.S.  However, as simply asking for your sentence to be reduced will not automatically place your deportation case on hold, you’ll need to have your lawyer file as soon as possible to give you the best chance of success.

Q: Can You Come Back to the U.S. If You’ve Been Criminally Deported?

Depending on the case, someone who’s been deported must wait between 5 and 10 years to return to the United States. The time-period increases to 20 years after a second deportation. While you can apply for permission to re-enter sooner, immigration authorities may not let you do so. Also, if you’re convicted of certain crimes or an aggravated felony, you may never be allowed to return.

If you’ve been arrested, your best chances of remaining in the U.S. lie with hiring one of best Miami immigration lawyers. Saleh and Associates has the experience and the knowledge to help you win your case and move forward toward a better future. Call us at (305) 448-0077 today!

Written by Saleh and Associates

Saleh and Associates

Anis N. Saleh is President and Managing Shareholder of the Miami firm of Saleh & Associates, P.A., where he practices in all areas of Immigration and Nationality Law, including extensive experience in employment-based & family-based cases, deportation & removal hearings, and federal litigation.