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Committing a felony may endanger immigration status

California residents may be interested in learning more about factors that can affect immigration status. The commission of certain crimes by foreign nationals may jeopardize their immigration status and, in some instances, lead to their deportation from the United States. As a general rule, immigration status can be changed if a non-citizen is convicted of a felony. Further, if a non-citizen is convicted of an "aggravated felony" or a crime involving "moral turpitude," the government may deport the non-citizen without an opportunity to dispute the deportation. The non-citizen may also be barred from entering the U.S. at any point in the future.

The terms aggravated felony and moral turpitude are specifically defined by U.S. immigration law. In some instances, crimes that qualify for one of these special categories of crimes do not even qualify as misdemeanors if committed by a citizen of the U.S. If a foreign national is convicted of a crime that the government later adds to the list of specified crimes, that individual's immigration status can be revised or revoked even though such crime was not actionable at the time the individual was convicted.

Crimes that are considered aggravated felonies include murder, drug trafficking, trafficking of firearms or explosives, battery, theft, tax fraud and failure to make a required court appearance. Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes outside of normal social codes. Crimes that have been deemed as such include tax evasion, wire fraud, child abuse and carrying a concealed weapon.

If a non-citizen is arrested, particularly for a crime that is considered an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude, their immigration status may be revised or revoked. Immigration attorneys may be helpful in explaining the implications of a criminal conviction. They might also be able to assist in limiting the chances of an adverse immigration decision.

Source: FindLaw, "How Does a Felony Affect Immigration Status?," Accessed March 19, 2015

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