- Who is affected by inadmissibility?
- Common grounds for inadmissibility.
- Common grounds for deportability.
- What is a conviction? It’s may be broader than you think.
It can be very confusing for people facing immigration problems due to past crimes to understand the difference between deportability and inadmissibility.
That is because there are two separate sections of U.S. immigration law that govern whether a crime will bar you from getting a green card (if you don’t have one), or whether it will lead to your green card being taken away. These are the laws of inadmissibility and the laws of deportability. It’s important to understand them as both might ultimately lead to you being deported or removed from the United States
A particular crime has different consequences depending on whether the person who committed the crime is already a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), or if they are a person from another nation who is trying to apply for a green card. Some crimes may have no impact on a Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States, but these same offenses will cause a problem should he or she travel abroad.
Inadmissibility can also be for health reasons, the 3 and 10 year bars, and / or fraud, but for this blog post we are only dealing with inadmissibility due to crimes.
DON’T ASSUME YOUR GREEN CARD WILL PROTECT YOU FROM VERY OLD OR RECENT CRIMES. INADMISSIBILITY CAN AFFECT EVERYONE TRYING TO ENTER THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING:
- Undocumented immigrants
- People applying for green cards.
- Permanent Residents (who already have green cards) who travel overseas and seek admission on return to the US.
- People who are applying for a renewal, change, or adjustment of status while in the United States
HERE ARE SOME VERY COMMON GROUNDS OF INADMISSIBILITY:
- Conviction or admitting use of illicit drugs (“controlled dangerous substances”)
- Prostitution and vice
- Conviction or admitting a crime involving moral turpitude – the list is very long and may be found by reviewing cases but essentially is defined as any act which is “inherently evil” such as:
- Larceny; and
- Intent to harm persons or things.
- Having helped smuggle other foreign-born people into the U.S.
The full list can be found in Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
HERE ARE SOME VERY COMMON GROUNDS FOR DEPORTABILITY:
- Conviction involving firearms or destructive devices
- Domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and even violations of orders of protection
- Aggravated felonies (the list is very long and may be found at Section 101(a)(43) of the Immigration Act)
- Having gained legal status by committing marriage fraud.
- Having failed to timely notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of one’s changes of address (I have had clients with this issue. Even though it’s most often a mistake it can lead to deportation in worst case scenarios).
The full list can be found in Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
THIS IS HOW THE IMMIGRATION LAW DEFINES A CONVICTION:
- The Board of Immigration Appeals has interpreted this definition to also include an initial guilty plea. Even if you later got this plea overturned, it can lead to deportation.
- In New Jersey, and many other states, an immigrant who has goes into Pre Trial Intervention, Pre Trial Diversion or another alternative to sentencing program (such as a conditional discharge) in which he has made a guilty plea, will be subject to deportation, or as it has been called since 1997, removal.
THERE ARE WAIVERS for both crimes involving Deportability vs. Inadmissibility depending on circumstances.
Be sure to talk carefully with an immigration lawyer who has strong expertise in Deportability and Inadmissibility, if you are from another country and have had any run-ins with the police!