What happens when a non-citizen commits a crime?

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Regardless of the type of crime, non-citizens who commit a crime during the immigration process jeopardize their immigration status. If you are seeking temporary or permanent lawful residence in the U.S. and have been charged with a crime, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced and knowledgeable New Jersey Immigration Lawyer who can help you navigate this intricate situation and help you figure out your next steps. 

What to know about committing a crime as a non-citizen?

Non-citizens undergoing the immigration process may wonder what could happen to them if they commit and are charged with a crime and how it could affect their immigration status. For starters, regardless of whether a non-citizen is charged with a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense, it will jeopardize their immigration status. The consequences of a criminal offense are serious and can result in deportation. If a non-citizen is convicted of a crime that is considered an aggravated felony, they will most likely face deportation. Examples of aggravated felonies include crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, perjury, and violent crimes. A common misconception is that once a non-citizen gets their green card any crime they commit will not jeopardize their legal immigration status. However, that is not accurate. If a green card holder is convicted of a crime within the first five years of residing in the U.S., they will be deported as a result of their criminal behavior.

What crimes do not affect a person’s immigration status?

Although certain crimes can cause temporary or permanent residents to have their immigration status revoked, certain crimes do not affect their immigration status. The only crimes that do not affect a non-citizen’s immigration status are “petty offenses.” Petty offenses are considered minor offenses such as shoplifting and disorderly conduct. The court, however, generally finds that petty offenses are crimes requiring less than six months of prison time or less than one year of imprisonment. If a non-citizen has committed a crime, it will likely result in them being denied legal residency in the U.S.

Should I speak with a lawyer?

The immigration process is a long and overwhelming process for non-citizens. A non-citizen may believe they are helping their chances of being approved during the immigration process by lying about previous arrests or having a criminal record. However, that is not the case. It is always a smart choice to be completely honest about a criminal past.

If you have committed a crime during the immigration process, contact one of our trusted and determined team members who can help you figure out your next steps. Our firm is committed to helping our clients in any way we can. Regardless of whether you have committed a crime, our firm can effectively guide you through the immigration process today.

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