Many people who apply for visas or achieve immigration status in the U.S. do not realize that it is not necessarily permanent. Even green cards can be revoked if the holder is found to have committed a crime of moral turpitude. However, the definition of that term is murky. It is important to have a good attorney who can help you navigate the confusing maze of terms and paperwork.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude
A crime of moral turpitude (CMT) has been defined as a “depraved or immoral act.” More narrowly, it has been defined as a crime involving force, deception or theft; something morally reprehensible, as well as against the law. Examples of CMTs include rape, murder, felony assault, robbery, fraud and forgery, though this list is not exhaustive.
If you have committed a CMT and you are deemed removable, it will render you either inadmissible or deportable, depending on your immigration status when you are convicted. The distinctions are important, as inadmissibility is usually punished by a shorter-term bar to re-entry than deportability (inadmissibility bars can go up to 10 years, while deportability bars can go up to 20). Not every CMT will render you removable. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) specifies the circumstances.
The INA sets out the circumstances in which a CMT will trigger inadmissibility or deportability. They are:
A “single scheme of criminal misconduct” means a single larger enterprise. For example, if a non-citizen kidnapped a young woman and later murdered her, he would have committed two crimes within a larger enterprise. The kidnap and the murder would be closely related. Thus, he would have committed only one CMT for purposes of deportability.
While both situations will result in removability within the appropriate time frame, the circumstances are different if a crime is committed more than five years after admission. If a non-citizen commits a CMT more than five years after admission, it may not immediately trigger removal proceedings. In such a situation, the immigration judge’s discretion usually prevails. However, if a non-citizen is convicted of two or more CMTs that are not part of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, he is always rendered removable, regardless of how long they have been in the U.S. or how far apart the crimes were.
Sometimes, a non-citizen may be able to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility under Sec. 212 of the INA. Certain crimes of moral turpitude may be able to be excused in this fashion, such as prostitution-related offenses or minor drug possession. To obtain a waiver, one must:
An aggravated felony is not the same as a CMT. An aggravated felony may be a CMT, but a CMT is not necessarily an aggravated felony. For example, possession of a minor amount of drugs may be a CMT, but since it is neither violent nor necessarily deceptive, it would likely not be an aggravated felony. If you have committed an aggravated felony, there is very little you can do to avoid deportation.
Contact an Attorney for Help
If you have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, we can help. Contact the DuPage County firm of Mevorah Law Offices LLC today for a consultation.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 35 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Joliet, St. Charles, and Chicago.
Steven Mevorah has assembled experienced attorneys under one roof so that his clients need not search for a new attorney each time they need help. Mr. Mevorah has also established a wide network of additional attorneys so that his clients merely need to stop by Mevorah Law Offices LLC to find the attorney they need.
Our practice is focused on meeting your needs with flexible hours and locations to serve you: