U.S. immigration law defines a crime of moral turpitude (CIMT) as being a crime involving conduct that shocks the public conscience, and is “contrary to the rules of morality.” In immigration law, being convicted of a CIMT can render someone deportable. The only way to avoid deportation in such a situation is either to seek a waiver or to avail oneself of what is called the petty offense exception. The exception is not well understood, but it can be very helpful in some immigration cases.
CIMTs Are Subjective
The category of crimes of moral turpitude came into being only within recent memory, and there is no specific written definition of a CIMT within U.S. immigration law. It has been described in various cases as “being inherently base, vile, or depraved” and shocking the public conscience. A variety of crimes from murder to kidnapping to fraud have been classified as CIMTs, and given the vagueness of the law and the definition, it can be quite difficult at times to determine whether you have in fact committed a CIMT or not.
It is important that you not confuse a CIMT with an aggravated felony, as the two have different consequences. Any alien (aside from refugees and asylees) that has been convicted of an aggravated felony is immediately inadmissible to the U.S. and rendered deportable, regardless of immigration status. Aggravated felonies are much more specific (and actually enumerated in law), and there is very little relief to be gained if you are convicted of one. Many aggravated felonies have no waiver possible, which is not the case with crimes of moral turpitude....