Misdemeanor convictions and immigration status

There are three types of misdemeanor charges that can potentially result in serious immigration consequences for a lawful permanent resident trying to renew a Green Card: Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT), crimes of violence, and drug offenses. Many misdemeanors that make a person inadmissible fall under the immigration law concept of CIMT. The CIMT is one of the oldest reasons of removal from the United States.

The CIMT are grouped into three main criminal immigration categories:

Crimes against property (blackmail, arson, robbery, burglary, receipt of stolen property);
Crimes committed against governmental authority (tax evasion , corruption, fraud against the government);
Crimes committed against individuals, family and sexual morality (statutory rape, murder, second or third degree assault, disorderly conduct, child abuse or pornography).
Under the INA, the conviction of a crime that corresponds to this list can make a person ineligible to enter the United States and to obtain a visa. If the person is already present in the United States, the acquisition of a Green Card or the naturalization process can be denied. On the other side, a conviction of just one misdemeanor CIMT when a state statute provides for a maximum sentence of one year or less is not grounds for the DHS to initiate removal proceedings.

Section 212(a)(2)(A) of the INA states that any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of a CIMT or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime, is inadmissible to the U.S.

If the person is already present in the United States, the acquisition of a Green Card or the naturalization process can be denied. In addition, conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to a CIMT, are themselves considered CIMT, and are punished and penalized as such. If the crime was committed before you turned 18, was at least 5 years before your application, or did not carry a maximum penalty of more than one year and you were not sentenced to more than six months, you will not be found inadmissible.

While the criminal act being committed is the same, multiple violations can result in a felony charge that carries harsher punishments. A number of substance violation related misdemeanors lead to a finding that the applicant is a drug abuser or addict or a drug trafficker. Those are grounds of inadmissibility.