The United States expects immigrants to adhere to strict standards. Any criminal record might affect your immigration rights.
People living in the United States with a visa typically need to demonstrate good moral character before entering the U.S. and while they are in the country. Avoiding criminal charges is one of the easiest ways to help prove good moral character as an immigrant.
However, immigrants can get convicted of a crime and still meet the criteria to remain in the country or adjust their status to become permanent residents. The nature of the crime often determines the consequences an immigrant faces. The sentences the courts order can also affect someone’s immigration rights.
What are the immigration rules regarding sentencing?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will likely consider any lengthy sentences as an indicator that someone does not have good moral character. If the time served for two or more offenses adds up to five years or more, that can affect your immigration rights.
Even if you don’t serve the sentence, it could affect your rights. Only 180 days of actual incarceration might be enough to have this impact. A lengthy sentence on your record will lead to a negative assumption about your moral character and likely prevent you from renewing a visa or adjusting your status.
Immigrants facing criminal charges need to consider the potential consequences of a conviction or guilty plea carefully. The more charges someone faces and the more serious the charges are, the more likely the crime itself or the sentence that results could hurt their immigration rights. Defending against criminal charges can be a crucial way for immigrants to protect their legal status in the country.