In this week’s FAQ Friday, Rebecca Wade, partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner, discusses how minor criminal offenses can have enormous consequences for non-citizens.
Wade explains that there are various criminal offenses that could impact immigrants in different ways. If a noncitizen is convicted of an offense that makes them “inadmissible”, they will be barred from entering the country. For example, let’s say someone with a student visa is inadmissible. If they leave the U.S. to visit their home country during the holidays or on a semester break and later try to re-enter the country, they will not be allowed back in. Even someone with a green card who leaves for a vacation can be stopped at the border and denied entry if they are considered inadmissible. Additionally, if someone is inadmissible, they cannot adjust their immigration status even if they’ve been convicted of an offense that does not make them deportable.
Wade goes on to explain that another kind of conviction is a “deportable” offense. If a noncitizen commits a deportable offense while they are in the U.S., they can be removed from the country. Then there are “aggravated felonies” which deem noncitizens both inadmissible and deportable. Aggravated felonies do not have to be considered felonies under state law. So while an individual can be convicted of a misdemeanor in the state court, that same conviction is considered a felony under federal law for immigration purposes.