What Are Removable Offenses?

If you are a foreign national living in the United States, you are expected to comply with the law just as any U.S. Citizen would. Should you violate certain U.S. laws, you may be put into removal proceedings. It must be determined whether you participated in a removable offense. Any foreign national may be subject to removal if found to have committed a removable offense. This is true for visa holders and green card holders alike. What, however, is a removable offense? We will discuss the answer to that question in detail here.

What Are Removable Offenses?

Did you know that the most common reason for an immigrant to be placed into removal proceedings, (meaning they may be deported,) is that there is evidence that the person has committed or been convicted of a crime? Not all crimes will risk a foreign national being placed in removal proceedings. Removable offenses include those considered to be crimes of “moral turpitude or an aggravated felony. There are also specifically listed crimes that can be grounds for removal. Furthermore, this list of removable offenses increases further should an immigrant leave the country, comes back and is put right into removal proceedings upon his or her return to the U.S.

A crime of “moral turpitude” does not have a set definition within U.S. immigration law. With guidance from court rulings and the Department of State, you can generally count on a crime of “moral turpitude” as one involving fraud, theft of personal property, or an intent to harm others or things. If dishonesty or theft are involved, the crime is almost certain to be deemed one of “moral turpitude.” Other specific crimes that are removeable offenses include spousal abuse and aggravated driving under the influence.

There are two ways that participating in a crime of “moral turpitude” can place you into removal proceedings. You could have committed a crime of moral turpitude during your first five years following admission to the U.S. Alternately, you could have committed two or more crimes of moral turpitude stemming from multiple schemes of criminal misconduct any time after being admitted to the U.S. You may be able to argue that you did not commit a crime of moral turpitude due to the alleged criminal conduct merely arising to the level of a “petty offense.” This is an exception that can be applied should the punishment for the crime committed not exceed one-year imprisonment and if the person only served less than six months.

It is important to note that, while conviction is usually required to place a person into removal proceedings, it is not necessarily required for immigration purposes. For immigration purposes, a conviction has a broader meaning than it would as far as a formal judgment of guilt handed down by a court. A conviction in the immigration context can also arise when the adjudication of guilt is withheld, but other conditions, such as the person entering a guilty plea or that of nolo contender. Furthermore, crimes that are later vacated, or granted other post-conviction relief, may not necessarily result in any impact for the purposes of immigration proceedings.

Immigration Law Attorneys

If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x104). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com