Non-citizen criminal defendants are subject to deportation for even minor criminal offenses, including municipal offenses, minor drug crimes, domestic violence offenses, violations of restraining orders, and shoplifting. Criminal convictions and even criminal arrests can affect non-citizens in three ways. First, a criminal conviction can make a non-citizen deportable. This means that a criminal conviction can cause a person to be expelled from the country as a result of the conviction. Second, a criminal conviction or even an arrest can make a person inadmissible to the U.S. This means that a person with a criminal conviction or arrest can be denied entry to the U.S., if he or she ever leaves and attempts to re-enter, or can be denied a visa if he or she ever applies for one. Third, a criminal conviction or arrest can prevent a person from obtaining citizenship in the U.S. Even people who are lawful permanent residents of the U.S. risk having their residency taken away and being deported for even minor criminal offenses.
As a result of other changes in the law, even criminal cases that have eventually been erased or expunged will still be considered convictions for immigration purposes. Do not assume that just because your criminal case was eventually expunged from your record that you are free from immigration consequences. If you have a criminal record of any kind, or even if you have ever been arrested for a crime, you should seek a consultation with an immigration attorney before you submit any immigration paperwork to United States Citizenship and Immigration Service.
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