When seeking permanent residency in the United States, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will consider your criminal history among several other factors. Essentially, crimes of moral turpitude include offenses that go against the general moral principles of wider society.
Such offenses can be hard to define, so the USCIS has provided a more concrete definition which comprises crimes that are “contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.”
Examples of more serious crimes
While there is not an exhaustive list, the most notable crimes of moral turpitude include murder, drug offenses, child abuse, fraud, theft and robbery. For lesser offenses, where there may be more room for debate, the judge will take into account the precise circumstances of the offense as well as the accused’s state of mind and the vulnerability of the victim.
Potential consequences for your immigration status
If you have previous convictions for crimes of moral turpitude, then you could have difficulties in applying for residency in the U.S. Furthermore, if you are already in the country permanently, a conviction could see you facing deportation. According to the Immigration Act 1917, offenders can face deportation for severe criminal offenses.
Even if a criminal offense is not deemed serious enough to warrant deportation in itself, you could find yourself in trouble if you are in the country on an employment-based visa. Professional licenses can be revoked as a result of criminal trials and your employer might even decide to terminate your employment should they find out what is going on.
What are your options?
Just because you have been accused of a criminal offense, that doesn’t mean you are automatically guilty. You have a presumption of innocence as well as a right to protect your immigration status. Finding out where you stand in terms of the law will help you to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.