Criminal convictions and immigration

If you live in the United States but are not a citizen or permanent resident, criminal convictions could impact your immigration status. In addition, charges may carry driver’s license suspension, fines, community service and even prison time.

Review the offenses that can result in deportation from or inadmissibility to the U.S.

Understanding inadmissible convictions

You may receive inadmissible status from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if you have a conviction for:

  • Murder, tax fraud, sexual abuse of a minor or any other aggravated felony
  • Animal abuse, sexual assault or any other crime of moral turpitude
  • Any drug charges, including both misdemeanors and felonies

With inadmissibility, you cannot legally obtain a green card, modify your current immigration status or enter the U.S. again if you leave. This is different from deportation, in which USCIS will require you to leave the U.S. right away.

Handling immigration consequences

If your criminal offense occurred in the past, you must still report it if you apply for a green card. The USCIS can find you inadmissible if you omit this information. Along with the green card application, you must submit a waiver of inadmissibility. However, USCIS does not waive inadmissibility for murder, torture and drug crimes.

Criminal convictions do not always keep you from obtaining a green card. However, you must successfully complete your application and the waiver of inadmissibility to convince the agency that you do not pose a threat to others by remaining in the U.S. The waiver requires a filing fee of $930, so you must avoid incomplete or erroneous submissions.

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