Watch Your Status: What Getting Arrested Can Mean For Green Card Holders!


Chances are, if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) you either want to maintain that status or have intentions to eventually naturalize. Either way, understanding the impact that certain crimes and convictions can have on your immigration status is critical. LPRs convicted of “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” (CIMTs) can face deportation.

CIMTs? Yes, Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude are generally defined by US courts as crimes that are “inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.” Matter of Silva-Trevino, 24 I&N Dec. 687 (AG 2008).  CIMTs include aggravated felonies and crimes that are punishable by a sentence of one year or more.

In order for a CIMT to render a noncitizen deportable, one of the following scenarios must be true:

A. You were convicted of two CIMTs since the date of your admission


B. You were convicted of one CIMT that was committed within the first five years of your admission date AND that crime is punishable by a sentence of one year or more

Here are a few tips when pleading to criminal charges:

  1. Plead to a misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum sentence of 6 months or less. It is important to note that misdemeanors can become grounds for deportation if they are punishable by a sentence of one year or more.
  1. Only CIMTs that occurred within the first 5 years of your admission date can render you deportable.

In addition to the prospect of deportation, a LPR’s criminal history has bearing on whether or not they will receive bond once detained and whether they can later naturalize! Your best bet is to do your best to stay clear of criminal activity and consult with an attorney if you are ever in any legal trouble!

About Johanna Leonidas

Johanna Leonidas is managing attorney at J. Leonidas Law LLC. She can be reached at No content on this blog should be deemed legal advice, nor does content create an attorney-client relationship. Please seek professional legal advice since this blog is for informational purposes only.

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