Immigration Consequences in Criminal Cases

For many, the consequences of a conviction go beyond conditions of probation, time incarcerated, and fees. Those who plead guilty in a criminal case and are not citizens of the United States face various immigration consequences that range from removal from the United States to the inability to re-enter the United States. These consequences are laid out in the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Chapter 8 of the United States Code.

The law provides a list of offenses in which a conviction of that offense will trigger removal from the United States and/or the inability to re-enter the United States. It is important to note that receiving community supervision, which includes probation and deferred adjudication, as a sentence is considered a “conviction” for these immigration purposes. This list of crimes include:

i.  Aggravated felonies

ii. Crimes of moral turpitude

iii. Two or more crimes of moral turpitude

iv. Failure to register as a sex offender

v. Crimes involving a controlled substance or a firearm

vi. Crimes of domestic violence, stalking, or violation of protection order

vii. Crimes against children

viii. Human trafficking


An offense is considered an aggravated felony for these purposes if it relates to one of the following:

a. Murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor

b. Illicit trafficking of controlled substance

c. Illicit trafficking in firearms or destructive devices

d. Money laundering

e. Firearms and explosive devises

f. Crimes of violence, theft, relating to racketeer influenced corrupt organization, gambling, or document fraud—if the sentence imposed involves at least one year confinement

g. Ransom or demand for receipt of ransom

h. Child pornography

i. Prostitution, slavery, and involuntary servitude

j. National intelligence

k. Fraud, deceit, or tax evasion—in which loss exceeds $10,000

l. Alien smuggling, unless for an immediate family member

m.Failure to appear, if the underlying sentence is punishable by at least 5 years

n. Commercial bribery, counterfeiting, forgery or trafficking in vehicles where the identification numbers have been altered and the term of imprisonment is at least one year

o. Obstruction of justice, perjury, subornation of perjury, or bribery of a witness if the term of imprisonment imposed is at least one year

p. Failure to appear pursuant to a court order to answer to or dispose of a charge for which a sentence of two years may be imposed

q. An attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above offenses

r. Crimes of moral turpitude, if committed within five years of admission into the United States and the offense could result in a sentence of at least one year


If the offense is considered an aggravated felony, as listed above, the individual with the conviction will be ineligible for most forms of discretionary relief from removal and re-adjustment of status.


Although this is currently the law, federal immigration law is constantly changing. Therefore, a conviction of a any misdemeanor or felony offenses carries the risk of removal or inadmissibility.