If you’re a foreign-born person convicted of a crime in Indiana, you’re likely to be concerned about how the conviction will affect your immigration status. The United States requires all immigration applicants to divulge all information about their criminal history, whether applying for a visa, green card, adjustment of status, or U.S. citizenship. If you have a criminal conviction, you are at a higher risk of getting deported or have other effects on your immigration status. Here’s what you need to know.
Serious criminal convictions
The United States has grounds to deport people who have been convicted of a serious crime. Section 212(A) of the Immigration Nationality Act sets forth the serious crimes that render a person “inadmissible” to the U.S. These include crimes of moral turpitude and violence, including murder, rape, human or drug trafficking, conspiracy.
You can also be deported if you’re convicted of an “aggravated felony.” “Aggravated felonies” are an expansive class of offenses that carry extremely severe immigration consequences for non-citizens. Despite the term’s name, the crime committed does not have to be aggravated nor a felony under state law to be an aggravated felony under federal law.
About 30 offenses are currently aggravated felonies. In addition to serious crimes of moral turpitude, they include relatively minor crimes such as simple theft, tax fraud, or even failing to appear in court for a criminal hearing. Whenever Congress adds a new aggravated felony, an immigrant who has been previously convicted of such a crime becomes retroactively deportable, despite the length of their residency in the United States, ties to the community, or family members who are U.S. citizens.
Less serious offenses
If your criminal conviction is not for a crime of moral turpitude nor has Congress classified it as an aggravated felony, the conviction may affect your immigration status, but there’s a lesser risk. United States Citizenship for Immigration Services officials will decide how and whether the conviction will affect your case.
What to do if you’re an immigrant arrested in Indiana
If you’re arrested in Indiana and are worried that a conviction will affect your immigration status, you must consult with an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney immediately. A good criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges against you and determine the best way to proceed while protecting your immigration status.