Will A Felony Negatively Impact Your Chances Of A Green Card?

While committing a felony isn't a good idea for anyone, it is an especially bad idea for someone who is in the United States on a green card or visa. After committing the felony, immigration officials have the right to downgrade your status or deport you based on the nature of your crimes. Crimes labeled as "aggravated felonies" carry rough penalties for individuals who are not US citizens. Furthermore, committing an aggravated felony may even make you ineligible for a green card and cause you to be barred from coming back to the United States.

Convictions Do Fall Off Your Record

An individual who has been recently convicted of a felony is more likely to be denied their green card than someone who committed a felony ten or twenty years ago. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an individual must have demonstrated good moral character for at least three to five years before filling out his or her application. The only exception is if you were convicted of an aggravated felony as that will permanently bar you from receiving a green card.

What Exactly is an Aggravated Felony?

The trouble with defining the term "aggravated felony" is the fact that it falls under federal law despite a large number of the crimes being prosecuted under the state law instead. Basically, this just means that someone could technically have a misdemeanor on his or her record while the US immigration authorities see it as an aggravated felony because of the nature of the crime. A brief list of some of the crimes that fall into this category include:

  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Statutory rape
  • Sexual abuse of a minor
  • Laundering more than $10,000
  • Fraud or tax evasion in connection to more than $10,000
  • Perjury
  • Kidnapping
  • Spying or treason
  • Failure to appear in court for a felony charge where the sentence was at least two years
  • Alien smuggling
  • Child pornography related charges

How Will Other Crimes Impact Your Green Card Application?

Fortunately, other crimes do not carry the same weight as an aggravated felony. This means you will not automatically be barred from citizenship if you are convicted of a crime. It is, however, important to understand the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has final say regarding whether or not your crime demonstrated a lack of proper moral character.

If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services determines your crime to show a lack of proper moral character, you may not be able to gain citizenship. Contact an immigration lawyer to learn more.