Criminal Convictions

CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS: A DANGER TO YOUR IMMIGRATION GOALS

Some immigrants apply for benefits without the help of an attorney.  The immigration look simple.  They complete the forms, sign the petitions, pay their filing fees, and submit the papework to the government.  They expect  everything to go smoothly.

Sometimes they hit a stumbling block. 5, 10, or even 20 years ago, they were convicted of a minor crime.  The conviction is not minor to immigration officials.

Under immigration law, old convictions, even those which seem minor,  can harm an immigrant at any stage – getting a green card, renewing a green card, becoming a citizen, or fighting deportation in court.

If you have a criminal record, you should seek legal advice.

Even smaller convictions like shoplifting, drunk driving, and petty theft could cause you to lose your green card. Some convictions lead to almost automatic loss of your green card. Others lead to “good moral character” problems.

Before filing papers, you should have all prior arrests and convictions analyzed by an immigration attorney. Once they are analyzed, you may need to take steps to reduce the negative effects of convictions and protect your immigration status.

Police officers chased some youths who had committed some mischief. The boys ran through Tom’s yard and jumped over the back fence.

Hearing the noise, Tom went outside. Noticing the officers were breathing heavily, he invited them inside for water and orange juice.

Tom, 45 years old, was a minister of a local church and active in community affairs. He worked with teenagers, encouraging them to stay away from crime and drugs. Tom was well-liked by his neighbors and congregation.

When the officers went back to their car, they called in everyone’s name. They even ran a background check on Tom. A short while later, they asked Tom to come over to their vehicle. To Tom’s surprise, they arrested him. They transferred him over to immigration authorities.

It turned out Tom had been arrested and convicted of a crime 25 years earlier. After that incident, Tom had reformed and led an exemplary life. When he had renewed his green card, he did not have any problems due to his arrest.

However, in recent years, immigration law had increased the list of crimes which make a person automatically deportable. Tom’s old crime was now on that list.

Figuring out how criminal convictions will affect your immigration case is difficult. This is not something to try on your own.

Even a small conviction can become an immigration deal-breaker.

HOW WE HELP IMMIGRANTS WITH CRIMINAL PROBLEMS

We can help you three different ways. First, during your criminal case. Second, at immigration court hearings. Third, in immigration appeals.

Criminal Court Hearings and Plea Bargains

If you are facing criminal charges right now, we can work with you and your criminal defense attorney before you enter a plea.

Whether you live in Avondale, Buckeye, Glendale, or Phoenix – or anywhere in Arizona – we can help you understand how criminal charges against you might affect your immigration status.

We can provide suggestions and action steps about how to reduce the possibility of deportation after your criminal case ends. We can help your criminal defense attorney figure out how to protect your immigration status.

Immigration Court Hearings and Trials

We will serve as your deportation defense attorney. After you are convicted in criminal court, you could be forced to go to immigration court. When this happens, the U. S. government will seek to deport you because of your conviction. We can help you fight deportation and removal from the United States.

Immigration Appeals and Deportation Defense

Perhaps you’ve already went to immigration court. If the judge has ordered you to be deported due to your past offense, we may be able to help you fight back. We may be able to help you challenge the judge’s decision.

Your past conviction does not always have to lead to automatic deportation. Immigration judges make mistakes. The law is not always clear. If you want to fight back, we will represent you in your appeal. We will challenge the immigration judge’s view of your conviction.

Whatever your current situation, do not let your past criminal records destroy your immigration case.