For many individuals who are looking to become legal citizens of the United States by obtaining their green card, the process can seem confusing. However, if you happen to have a criminal conviction in your past, it can become even more complicated. Large portions of the citizenship application are devoted to uncovering potential criminal history, and certain crimes may make you ineligible for citizenship.
If you are currently in the process of applying for your green card, you will need to know whether or not any of your past criminal convictions will affect your ability to become a permanent resident of the United States. The laws for U.S. immigration state that there are three distinct types of criminal convictions that can make you inadmissible, meaning you are ineligible to receive a green card or permanent citizenship.
Conviction of a Controlled Substance Violation
In the United States, controlled substances are drugs and other substances that are regulated by the government. It is not necessarily illegal to possess a controlled substance, as many of them are prescription medications, but it is a violation to possess them if you have an intent to sell them or if you are not the recipient of the prescription.
There are different levels of classification for a controlled substance violation depending on the intent of the person being charged. Being convicted of possessing a controlled substance, whether the substance is on your person or in your vehicle, is much less severe than being convicted with an intent to sell or distribute the medication. However, both violations may prevent you from obtaining a green card.
Conviction of an Aggravated Felony
Aggravated felonies have a specific context within immigration court and are not necessarily related to crimes that are “aggravated” or “felonies.” These crimes are taken much more seriously than many other charges, such as possession of a controlled substance. Any individual who has been convicted of an aggravated felony is permanently barred from obtaining citizenship or naturalization. Examples of aggravated felonies include:
- Drug trafficking
- Firearms trafficking
- Money laundering
- Child pornography offenses
- Falsifying documents such as a passport
- Prostitution offenses
- Illegal alien smuggling
- Fraud of tax evasion
- Failure to appear in court
While many of these convictions are considered more serious than some of the others on the same list, any of these crimes could prevent you or your family from achieving naturalization and permanent citizenship within the United States.
Conviction of a Crime of Moral Turpitude
Laws in the United States have been structured to punish specific heinous crimes more harshly due to the nature of the act. These are often referred to as crimes of moral turpitude, meaning that a court believes these crimes were committed with “evil intent” or were performed recklessly on purpose and can include:
- Child abuse
- Spousal abuse
- Animal abuse
In many cases, it is difficult for an individual and their family to obtain a green card or any form of legal residency in the United States if a crime of moral turpitude is listed on their criminal record. If you find yourself in this situation, one of the best things you can do to determine your next step is to reach out and speak with a local immigration attorney that you can trust. They can walk you through your options and help you to determine the correct course of action for your specific case.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney in Seattle
The process of becoming a citizen of the United States can be complicated, especially if you have a criminal record. If you are looking to obtain naturalization but are worried about how your previous convictions might affect your chances of receiving a green card, the team of qualified professionals at Orbit Law in Seattle, WA, can help. We are dedicated to helping individuals and families reach their dreams of citizenship.
Why wait another day to get the answers you need? Give us a call at (206) 623-3352 or reach out to us online to find out more information about how you can schedule your free case consultation today.