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The Intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law

To become a U.S. permanent resident or naturalized citizen, you must thoroughly and repeatedly persuade.

The Intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law

To become a U.S. permanent resident or naturalized citizen, you must thoroughly and repeatedly persuade USCIS that you are a law-abiding person and will continue to behave as such once you permanently settle in the United States. Until you get your citizenship, it is common to feel like you are only one minor mistake away from being deported or having your application for citizenship or permanent residency denied. Getting criminal charges is scary, but it is even more stressful when your immigration status is also at stake. Foreign nationals accused of crimes in the United States have the right to due process of law, just like U.S. citizens are. If you are facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense lawyer, but if you are facing criminal charges and do not have U.S. citizenship, you should also contact an Arizona immigration lawyer. Learn more about the intersection of criminal and immigration law below.

What You Need to Know About Criminal and Immigration Law

All Defendants in Criminal Court are Innocent Until Proven Guilty, Regardless of Immigration Status

The Constitutional protections for defendants in criminal cases apply to everyone who is accused of a crime in the United States. You have the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence, due process of law, and representation by a criminal defense attorney, regardless of your immigration status. If you cannot afford a defense lawyer, a public defender must represent you in criminal court, whether you are a U.S. citizen or are in the United States under an immigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa, or even if you are undocumented. Despite this, you should contact an immigration lawyer if you get accused of a crime or if you are the subject of a criminal investigation.

What Happens if You Get a Criminal Case While Residing in the U.S. as a Non-Citizen?

If you get charged with a crime, but the charges are later dropped, or if you get a not guilty verdict, then life goes on as normal. You should still talk things over with your immigration lawyer, though, to ensure that this run-in with the law does not cause problems with your eventual application for adjustment of status or naturalization.

If you get convicted of a crime, whether as the result of a plea deal or a guilty verdict at trial, your immigration status does not affect your sentence. The sentencing ranges for any given criminal offense are the same for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. For some felony convictions, the state has the right to deport you after you complete your sentence.

What Happens to Your Immigration Case if You Have a Criminal Record in Your Country of Origin?

When you apply for an immigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa to enter the United States, the application form contains questions about your criminal history. Some crimes render you inadmissible for immigration to the U.S., but others do not. Even if you have a prior conviction for a crime that would lead USCIS to reject your application, you must answer truthfully. Lying about your criminal record is worse than being convicted of a crime and telling the truth about it; USCIS will do an extensive background check before giving you a response to your application, so they will find out bout criminal records you try to conceal. If you have a criminal conviction, you can get a 212(h) waiver if at least 15 years passed between the date of your conviction and the date of your immigration application. The only crimes that are not eligible for a 212(h) waiver are murder, drug trafficking, and offenses involving torture.

U.S. Citizenship Is Forever

When you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, your U.S. citizenship status is forever, no matter how many criminal convictions you get after becoming naturalized. Unless you voluntarily give up your U.S. citizenship, the government will not take it away from you. Only a few naturalized citizens have ever been stripped of their U.S. citizenship. All U.S. citizens, whether they got their citizenship through birth or naturalization, lose the right to vote if they get a felony conviction but not a misdemeanor conviction. The process for getting your voting rights back after a felony conviction varies from one state to another.

Contact Singular Law Group About Criminal Cases and Your Immigration Case

An immigration law attorney can help you be successful in your immigration case, even if you have a criminal record in your country of origin or if you are facing criminal charges in the United States. Contact Singular Law Group PLLC in Tempe, Arizona, to set up a consultation.

 

Sources

https://www.justia.com/immigration/immigration-and-criminal-records/

A Tempe immigration lawyer can help you avoid deportation if you are being accused of a crime in the United States and proceed with your immigration case if you have a criminal conviction in your original country.

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