Immigration and international travel are two of the most significant collateral consequences of criminal convictions. However, most people charged with criminal offenses do not consider these issues until it is too late. Certain crimes affect immigration status depending on how serious the offense. Additionally, some offenses will trigger other countries to turn you away at the border, potentially banning you from traveling or working in the country for life. This is especially important to consider during the holiday travel season.
Different types of crimes can cause serious immigration consequences, up to and including mandatory detention and deportation. Some crimes will require mandatory deportation regardless of immigration status. These include Domestic Violence Assault, Violating a Protection Order, Stalking and Harassment, or cases involving child abuse and neglect. Additionally, cases known as “Aggravated Felonies” will cause mandatory detention and deportation, including sexual assault, possessing child pornography, and sex trafficking. There are several other crimes that can affect immigration consequences called Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude. This is a broad category that is meant to incorporate many crimes. These include crimes where someone intentionally, knowingly or even recklessly injures or deprives people of property. The federal government has classified these crimes as depraved or immoral acts, with little guidance about what these definitions mean. Violent crimes, theft, obstructing government administration, and fraud cases are just a few crimes that are considered Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude. If you are convicted of one of these crimes within five years of arriving in the United States and it is a felony, you could be subject to deportation. Committing two of these offenses, even if both are misdemeanors, can result in deportation. Lastly, a conviction of one Crime Involving Moral Turpitude may make someone inadmissible to re-enter the United States if they leave or may delay or even prohibit citizenship. These are general statements and apply to any immigration status. There are different rules for those applying for asylum, green cards, citizenship, and even those in D.A.C.A. status, known commonly as “Dreamers.” The State will not address these issues when charging you with a crime. Only a criminal defense attorney will take the time to thoroughly research these issues as they apply to your specific immigration status.
Even if you are a United States citizen, a criminal conviction of any kind may affect your ability to travel and work in foreign countries. Each country has its own laws regarding visas and entry with those convicted of criminal offenses, and the State will not advise you before you enter a guilty plea. A common issue with Mainers convicted of crimes involves entry into Canada. Due to its proximity, people in Maine often travel to Canada for pleasure, or need to travel there for work purposes. However, Canada has strict laws regarding visas and entry into the country with certain criminal offenses. For example, if you are convicted of Operating Under the Influence, Canadian Border Patrol will almost certainly turn you away from the border if you try entering the country. Even though Operating Under the Influence is a misdemeanor offense, Canada considers this a serious offense to bar entry into the country. A criminal defense attorney has the resources to connect with those to understand the specific rules of each country and to guide you through the law. With a criminal defense attorney, you will know how a criminal conviction affects travel to countries you need to enter.
Laws revolving around immigration and international travel consequences are always in flux. The attorneys at WTB Law will assess whether you are facing any immigration consequences because of your charge. Additionally, if you need to travel abroad for work or personal reasons, we will help guide you through your options for travel. If you are charged with a crime, contact the attorneys of WTB Law immediately for a consultation.