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How might an aggravated felony conviction affect my immigration status?

| Jul 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Any kind of criminal conviction could put your immigration status in danger — but an aggravated felony creates a particularly difficult situation.

You may find it helpful to learn what constitutes an aggravated felony offense for immigration. Doing so may help you craft a defense in your case that protects your immigration status. 

What is an aggravated felony offense for immigration?

In essence, an aggravated felony offense is whatever the federal law says is an aggravated felony. Even charges that might be misdemeanors in state court can be aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. In some cases (for example, marijuana possession in a state where recreational use is legal), something that’s considered an aggravated felony for immigration purposes may not be a crime at all in your particular jurisdiction. 

What impact do aggravated felony charges have on immigration?

An individual’s conviction for an aggravated felony or another crime of moral turpitude may make them ineligible for relief from removal and may warrant their deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

Any immigrant that has not reached the status of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who receives a conviction for an aggravated felony can expect to be subjected to administrative deportation. An immigrant convicted of an aggravated felony may not appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), asylum or any other discretionary relief, either. Deportation may occur within two weeks of a judge entering their final order. 

Immigrants deported pursuant to an aggravated felony conviction may be barred from reentering the U.S. without first securing a U.S. Department of Homeland Security waiver. Securing one of these is unlikely. Any individual who attempts to reenter the U.S. illegally may face up to 20 years imprisonment. 

What should you do if you’re an immigrant facing criminal charges? 

Criminal charges aren’t the same as a conviction. You can put up a defense in your case to respond to charges. Your success in doing so may impact your right to remain free and in this country. 

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