Every immigrant in the United States come in with hopes of making their very own version of the “American Dream” a reality. Some achieve that dream, while some fail. Others, however, have it worse when they find themselves charged with a felony. Getting the services of an experienced criminal law firm better their chances of getting off the hook. However, if the court decides to convict, immigrants are bound to face serious consequences.
The term “aggravated felony” sounds serious, but the term was created specifically for immigration purposes, and it doesn’t have to correspond to an “aggravated” offense or a “felony” under criminal law.
When it was first enacted in 1988, the aggravated felony was limited to murder, federal drug trafficking, the illicit trafficking of firearms and incendiary devices, and other serious crimes. Over the years, however, Congress has added offenses such as theft, simple battery, filing a fraudulent tax return, and failing to appear in court. These changes also happen to be retroactive on convictions, regardless of when they were received.
As it stands, an aggravated felony is used to describe a category of offenses that carry the most severe immigration consequences for non-citizens, long-term legal residents included. Those consequences may include detention and deportation, as well as a lifetime ban on returning to the United States.
Different results for different classifications
While a conviction for aggravated felony typically leads to deportation for a non-citizen, the final outcome may differ as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will factor in several considerations—including a person’s immigration status—before arriving at a penalty.
For a Legal Permanent Resident convicted of an aggravated felony, he or she will likely be deported and barred from future immigration to the United States.
An aggravated felony conviction also makes an Asylee eligible for deportation since aggravated felony qualifies as a “particularly serious crime,” a conviction for which can get an Asylee removed from the country.
Refugees convicted of an aggravated felony could face deportation to their home country, even when it’s not safe for them to be there. That conviction also makes them ineligible for Legal Permanent Resident status.
A conviction for an aggravated felony or any criminal offense, for that matter, can make a Non-Citizen without Legal Status eligible for deportation. Non-Citizens with Temporary Lawful Status, on the other hand, could lose their status for any felony conviction. Two or more misdemeanor convictions can also lead to the same outcome.
If you’re a green card holder convicted of a felony, you may still be able to defend yourself in court against removal from the United States. This time, however, you would be best served to contact an immigration attorney.