Those who enter the United States with a work visa can only stay in the country for as long as they remain in good legal standing. Not only do they need to comply with paperwork requirements, but they also need to be careful to follow the law. A criminal conviction could put their right to stay in the country at risk.
Most immigrants understand that a criminal conviction can affect their legal status. Offenses that lead to prolonged periods of incarceration or that the state considers crimes of moral turpitude could lead to deportation or at the very least, an inability to renew a visa when the time comes.
Some people working in the United States with a non-immigrant visa may think that minor criminal charges will have no impact on their visa, but they may have overlooked one particular risk.
Their employer may have a zero-tolerance policy
Background checks aren’t just necessary to get a visa. They are also part of obtaining a job or competing for a promotion. Many businesses have strict rules about criminal backgrounds for employment. They may have rules against particular convictions or require a clean background check.
Someone who pleads guilty or gets convicted of a criminal offense while working at the company might lose their job. Those with non-immigrant work visas only have 60 days after losing one job to secure a similar job and apply for a new visa. If you lose your employment because of a criminal conviction and cannot find a new job in time, you could face deportation or removal as a secondary consequence of that criminal matter.
Understanding what puts your immigration status at risk can help you make better decisions when living in the United States with a visa.