Your resident status is not safe after a conviction

You likely worked long and hard to receive your permanent resident status in the United States. Each year, the government offers a limited number of green cards, and you may have been placed on a waiting list before receiving yours, adding even more time to your long wait. Nevertheless, it may have been worth the wait to get your permanent residence.

While the reasons people come to this country are as numerous as the immigrants who arrive, the reasons for deportation are limited. One common cause for removal is when someone is convicted of a felony.

Not every felony is a felony

You may feel certain you will never be in the situation where you are facing a felony charge. However, as a measure of security for the U.S., Congress developed a special category of felonies called “aggravated felonies” that apply only to immigrants. While some of these offenses, such as murder and drug trafficking, are felonies in any Louisiana or U.S. court, many other crimes on the list would be only misdemeanors in those same courts. However, an immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony faces the possibility of deportation.

“Crimes of moral turpitude” is another group of offenses that can cost you your resident privileges. The vague definition of these types of crimes includes any act that society would consider depraved. Some may come with sentences of less than one year. There is no specific list of these crimes, so determining if you committed such a removable offense is often left to a judge’s discretion.

Some examples of removable offenses

A single aggravated felony or crime of moral turpitude may lead to removal, but generally, the government will not deport you for minor crimes of moral turpitude unless you are a repeat offender. Among the following, some may be misdemeanors in most cases but deportable crimes for those in the immigration system:

  • Using bodily force to injure someone, perhaps even in self-defense
  • Theft
  • Lying on your tax returns or failing to pay taxes
  • Failing to appear when summoned to court
  • Committing perjury
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Child abuse

In fact, child abuse and domestic violence are listed as crimes that include deportation among the penalties for conviction. The government also periodically adds new crimes to the already long list involving moral turpitude. This is why is it a good idea never to take a criminal charge lightly. Deportation is always a possibility if a court convicts you of a crime, even crimes that are misdemeanors in most other cases.