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I am not a U.S. citizen, What are the Immigration Consequences of my Criminal Case?

The scary truth for most immigrants is that until you become a citizen, there are serious and negative immigration consequences for every criminal arrest or prosecution, the only question is, how serious and how negative. Once a non-citizen immigrant is arrested for any crime, there will be negative consequences; some are more immediate and direct than others. The only thing that you can do after your arrest is find the best attorneys to help you mitigate the negative immigration consequences associated with every criminal arrest.

I provide trainings to criminal defense attorneys and public defender’s across the state of Florida on this exact issue. They all want to know the immigration consequences for a client charged with a specific crime and what charges to try and plead them to or what sentence to get them to keep them from being deported. The quick and dirty answer is always, “it depends.” Some questions are easy, “my client has a green card and he is facing a DUI, will he get deported?” The answer is, no not for the DUI, but that same DUI may get his citizenship application denied in the future.

Some questions are more complicated; for instance, “my client has a work permit, will this grand theft plea with no jail time get her deported?” That one is much more complicated . . .why does she have a work permit, what is her immigration status, does she have any other convictions and if so, for what? There are so many variables that no criminal defense attorney can possibly be expected to know or be able to find all of them. That is why we are here to help (check out our dedicated crimmigration consultation page for more information: http://www.floridacrimmigration.com)

Yes, its true that if you have a green card and are arrested for a crime and the State drops he charges, you cannot be deported because of that arrest. However, if you do not have a green card and you are arrested, even a case that is ultimately dropped can have severe and negative immigration consequences for you. Every arrest is looked at as a negative discretionary factor for all forms of immigration benefits and relief. And you can bet that the USCIS officer who is adjudicating your application for anything is going to want to see the police report from your arrest, even if the case was dropped. In addition, if your arrest led to a pre-trial diversion or intervention agreement that required that you admit the crime, that admission could be used against you for immigration purposes in the future, even if the case is dropped!

Those are the negative consequences for non-citizens whose criminal cases were dropped. What about the immigrants who were arrested and actually convicted for a crime, what are the immigration consequences for them? The only way to truly advise a client or a criminal defense attorney about the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction is to do a full and comprehensive immigration consultation. This is the only way to know for sure how a plea deal in criminal court will affect an immigrant’s current and future immigration status. Even if you have green card and you are convicted for a single crime that does not make you immediately deportable, that same crime can lead to detention and removal proceedings if you ever leave the country for vacation and try to come back.

A consultation will help an attorney find out what your current immigration status is (if you have one) when and how you obtained that status, when you first and most recently came into the country, if you ever left and how you entered each time. An attorney will need to know your marital status, and if married, your spouse’s immigration status, if you have children, and if so, they’re ages, immigration status, and your parents’ immigration status. And add to that questions about the medical and physical conditions or mental disabilities of everyone listed above.

This may seem like a huge number of invasive questions that don’t seem to have anything to do with your arrest, however, every one of those questions is absolutely important to know to determine the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction and any potential for relief from deportation.

Many people don’t realize that there are dozens of different kinds of immigration statuses. Some are easy to understand, like lawful permanent residence, temporary protected status (TPS), B1/B2 visitors, and F-1 students. Some are much more odd and rare, like unadjusted asylees and refugees, beneficiary of withholding of removal, DACA recipients and people with an administrative stay of removal. The immigration consequences of a criminal prosecution vary greatly depending on which one of these types of immigrant you are, or if you have no status at all.

Any felony conviction may make someone with TPS or DACA lose their status, work permit, put them into detention and subject them to deportation. That same felony conviction may mean nothing to someone with a green card or an asylee. A DUI conviction will not make a student or visitor or someone with no status deportable, however, that conviction will definitely put you in the radar of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and may lead to your detention and placement in removal proceedings-even if the case is dropped.

Again, the scary fact is that if you are not a U.S. citizen and you are arrested for any crime, there are always negative immigration consequences. That is why you need an experienced and trusted immigration attorney to help you as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your criminal case is over. If your criminal case is over, and you have not yet talked to an immigration attorney, call one right away to help you deal with the current and future immigration consequences of your criminal case.

If you need an immigration attorney anywhere in the United States, but certainly if you live in Orlando or Jacksonville, please call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon.
Visit our website for more information about SLG: http://www.slgattorneys.com

You can reach John at John@slgattorneys.com
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