No one wants to get arrested. However, immigrants have more risk than the average person from criminal charges.
Not only do they have to worry about jail time, fines and other criminal penalties, but they also have to worry about whether they can stay in the United States. There are at least three different ways that a criminal charge could affect someone’s right to stay in the country.
Crimes of moral turpitude can lead to removal
Any offense deemed a crime of moral turpitude can end your time in the U.S. A crime of moral turpitude is one that’s considered morally offensive and goes against the values of the broader community. There is room to interpret this phrase on a case-by-case basis. Drug and sex crimes are often crimes of moral turpitude in the eyes of the judges.
Criminal charges can affect your employment visa
If you entered the United States for a job, an arrest or conviction could affect your work. Some companies have contracts and policies that forbid convictions. Your employer could potentially fire you for your crime. Other times, you could lose your professional license or your ability to carry certain insurance. If you can’t keep your job, you probably can’t stay in the U.S. with a work visa.
Those charges could affect the outcome of a background check
Do you want to apply for a Green Card or become a naturalized citizen? Although you already passed a background check when you got your visa, you will have to undergo another background check. Criminal charges can affect your eligibility to become a permanent resident or a citizen, even if they don’t result in your immediate removal.
Understanding how criminal charges could affect your immigration status can help you respond to them appropriately.