Permanent residents of the United States have to realize the serious immigration consequence of criminal activity.
Criminal activity often is defined as violation of federal, state or foreign criminal law. Among them, crimes involving moral turpitude, aggravated felonies and certain criminal conduct precludes a finding of good moral character would most likely affect a permanent resident’s immigration status, including inadmissibility, deportability and eligibility for naturalization.
Crimes involving moral turpitude are defined by judicial and administrative case law. In general, if a crime manifests an element of baseness, such as murder, rape, and fraud, it involves moral turpitude.
Aggravated felonies are defined by INA Section 101(a)(43). Many specific crimes are listed as aggravated felonies under INA, such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, illicit trafficking in a controlled substance, a theft, burglary or possession of stolen property offense where the terms of imprisonment imposed is at least one year, kidnapping offenses, child pornography, et al.
Criminal conduct precludes a finding of good moral character are listed under INA §101(f), including but not limited to prostitution, having an income principally derived from illegal gambling activities, gives false information in attempting to receive a benefit under the INA, and et al. It matters because possession of good moral character is a statutory requirement for naturalization.
In certain circumstances, grounds for inadmissibility or deportability may be waived. For permanent resident who has not convicted for an aggravated felony, cancellation of removal is available if certain requirements are met.
Permanent resident with criminal records should always consult an immigration attorney prior to filing a naturalization application or even filing an application to replace the green card.