Criminal Charges for Immigration Violations - DuPage County Immigration Attorneys | Mevorah Law Offices LLC
Button 3 Button 1 Button 2 Button 4 Button 5 Button 6
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Free Initial Consultation | Se habla español 630-932-9100
Mevorah Law Offices LLC
DuPage County Attorneys


900 E. Roosevelt Road, Lombard, IL 60148

Phone: 630-932-9100


134 N. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Phone: 630-529-4761


333 N. Randall Road, Suite 104, St. Charles, IL 60175

Phone: 630-443-0600


105 W. Madison Street, Suite 2200, Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 630-932-9100


1730 Park Street, Suite 202, Naperville, IL 60563

Phone: 630-420-1000

Criminal Charges for Immigration Violations

Posted on in Immigration
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Print

criminal penalties immigration, Illinois deportation lawyerThere is much misinformation out in the media about the legal nature of immigration violations. Many believe that if someone is present in the U.S. without documentation, they are committing a crime. Technically, this is not so, aside from in very exceptional cases. Others wonder why it matters--the answer is because a criminal record is a very different matter than a record of civil infractions, for immigration purposes and otherwise. If you are in the U.S. without documentation, it is absolutely imperative that you know what manner of act you have actually committed.

Unlawful Presence

Unlawful presence is exactly what it sounds like - being present in the United States without benefit of legal status. However, lack of ‘legal status’ can be somewhat misleading to the average person, making it sound as though it is a crime, when in reality, unlawful presence is a civil infraction.

It is interesting to note that Congress actually had the opportunity in 2005 to criminalize unlawful presence, and declined to do so. The Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill, the short name for the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, would have made unlawful presence a felony, regardless of circumstance, but after demonstrations around the nation, the Senate voted the bill down.

The only time mere unlawful presence (without any compounding actions) can result in criminal penalties is if it occurs after a person has been formally removed from the country, and then returns without leave to do so. If someone re-enters the U.S. when they have a previous standing removal order, they are at risk of being arrested and sentenced to prison. Most sentences are around two years, but it can vary. If you entered the United States legally, but are accruing unlawful presence, you will likely be subject to deportation, but you have not committed any crime under U.S. law (with very rare exceptions).

Unlawful Entry

Unlike merely being present unlawfully, entering the country without inspection is a federal crime, according to 8 U.S.C. §1325. It can be a felony, but is most often characterized as a misdemeanor punishable by fines and/or jail terms of no less than six months (but normally no more than two years).

One might wonder how someone can be unlawfully present in the U.S. and not have entered unlawfully, but it is in reality quite common. Many who find themselves in this position legally obtain visas and then simply fail to leave before the visa’s expiration date. They enter the country legally, with inspection, but as soon as their visa expires, they begin to accrue unlawful presence. In that scenario, the person would be guilty of a civil infraction, but no crime has been committed.

If you entered the United States without inspection, you are guilty of both the civil infraction of unlawful presence, and the crime of unlawful entry. You are subject to deportation, but you may also be subject to fines and a two-year jail sentence.

Get An Immigration Attorney On Your Side

If you need help with a potential immigration violation, or you need guidance on which penalties you may be subject to, having a good immigration attorney on your side can make all the difference. The skilled DuPage County immigration and deportation attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC have years of experience in these cases, and will do our very best to help you with yours. Contact us today.

  • DuPage County Immigration Lawyers
  • Elite Lawyers
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • Top 40 Under 40
  • 2015 Top 40 Lawyers Under 40
  • Super Lawyers
  • Better Business Bureau

Let us start helping you with a FREE initial consultation.

NOTE: Fields with a * indicate a required field.

One Stop For All Your Legal Needs

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 40 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Naperville, 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.

Client Focused Representation

Our practice is focused on meeting your needs with flexible hours and locations to serve you:

  • Free initial consultations
  • Saturday and evening appointments available
  • Home and hospital visits if your injuries prevent you from traveling
  • Multiple locations throughout Chicagoland
  • Veteran trial attorneys
  • Experienced negotiators
  • Payment plans available
  • Cash, check, or credit card accepted