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Know your Aggravated Felonies

The term “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes is a much misunderstood term. One of the reasons is that an “aggravated felony” need not be aggravated, nor a felony. But it is important to understand what constitutes an aggravated felony for immigration purposes, because a conviction for an aggravated felony comes with serious immigration consequences.

An “aggravated felony” is defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act, under Section 101(a)(43) and includes:
Murder, rape, or sexual abuse of a minor;
Illicit trafficking in a controlled substance;
Illicit trafficking in firearms;
Laundering of monetary assets in amount over $10,000;
Certain offenses related explosive materials or firearms;
A crime of violence in with a term of imprisonment of at least a year;
A theft offense with a term of imprisonment of at least a year;
Burglary offense with a term of imprisonment of at least a year;
Demand for or receipt of ransom;
Child pornography;
Racketeering and Gambling offenses with a term of imprisonment of at least a year;
Prostitution (pimp), prostitution transportation for commercial gain, or trafficking in persons;
National Defense information crimes, disclosing classified information, or sabotage;
Treason;
Revealing identity of undercover agents;
Fraud Offenses with loss in excess of $10,000;
Tax evasion with loss to Government in excess of $10,000;
Alien smuggling (exception for first offense and assisted immediate relative);
Alien previously deported for conviction of unlawful presence;
Passport or document fraud with imprisonment of at least one year (exception for first offense and assisted with immediate relative);
Failure to Appear for sentence where offense was punishable by 5 years or more;
Forgery, counterfeiting, etc. of VIN numbers with imprisonment of at least one year Obstruction of justice, perjury, bribery with imprisonment of at least one year;
Failure to Appear for felony where two years or more may be imposed;
Attempt or Conspiracy to commit any of the above offenses;

An aggravated felony is not, in and of itself, a basis for inadmissibility. Although, it may be a basis for inadmissibility if it falls under some other category, like a crime involving moral turpitude. An aggravated felony is a deportable offense. Therefore, a person, even a lawful permanent resident who has lived here a very long time, can be deported based on a conviction for an aggravated felony.

Having an aggravated felony conviction subjects a non U.S. citizen to mandatory detention during deportation proceedings, disqualifies an alien from voluntary departure, disqualifies an alien from being granted asylum and may be considered a “particular serious crime” which would disqualify the alien from receiving withholding of removal. A person who has been convicted of an aggravated felony is also permanently barred from becoming a United States citizen.

The consequences to an alien convicted of an aggravated felony are extreme. If you, or someone you know, is facing a criminal case and not a U.S. citizen, consult an immigration attorney to determine whether a conviction will make you deportable, inadmissible, and if the conviction would be considered an aggravated felony.