All immigrants, including those with green cards, can be deported if they violate U.S. immigration laws. The most common reason for a Permanent Resident to be placed into removal proceedings or deported is because there is evidence that they have been convicted of a crime. However, this is a generality, as some criminal offenses do not even require a conviction to initiate inadmissibility or deportability.

A green card holder becomes at risk of deportation if they are convicted of either what is called a “crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony.” “Crimes of moral turpitude” are loosely defined in U.S. immigration laws, but include fraud, larceny, and intent to harm persons or things. Examples of these crimes are assault, failure to register, falsification of documents, misrepresentations, marriage fraud, smuggling, drug abuse, domestic violence, and driving under the influence. If a crime of moral turpitude is committed during the first five years after admission to the United States, or if two or more crimes of moral turpitude are committed that do not arise out of the same of criminal misconduct at any time after admission, this is generally cause for deportation. How a crime is classified and how this rule applies regarding whether one crime or multiple crimes have been committed will depend on the circumstances of the case.

Crimes that are considered “aggravated felonies” under U.S. immigration law (which differs from criminal law) include murder, rape, theft or violent crimes, drug or firearms trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, child pornography, money laundering, tax evasion involving more than $10,000, espionage, sabotage, treason, perjury, terrorism, and various other crimes that have a sentence of at least one year.

Criminal statutes almost always come from local or state law, so there will be questions about how these statutes are interpreted under federal immigration law and how they will affect the outcome.

It is important to know that when renewing or replacing a green card, USCIS requires that the applicant pay for and undergo a criminal background check. Any and all crimes will be revealed at that time. 

Over the years, the way that USCIS handles these crimes has changed, and a crime that was not a deportable offense 10 or 15 years ago could very well now be a deportable crime.

If convicted of an aggravated felony at any time, there will be little that can be done to avoid deportation. In some situations, in the case of a crime of moral turpitude, the applicant may be able to apply or reapply for a green card with what is called a “212(h) waiver” but these are very special circumstances.

If you or a loved one has worrisome background issues that may affect green card renewal or wonder if there is a risk of deportation, we understand how vulnerable and confused you may feel. Contact the offices FES Immigration Law in Tampa, FL. for competent and compassionate counsel. We will work hard to discuss these green card renewal issues with you and also see if deportation is avoidable by exploring all potential immigration relief on your behalf.  Call FES Immigration Law today at (813) 530-5992.