A permanent resident in this country has more to worry about after a criminal conviction than would a U.S. citizen.
The reason is that the country’s immigration laws make several criminal acts deportable offenses.
If an immigrant gets convicted, even once, of certain crimes, immigration officials may try to remove them from the country, even if they have been a green card holder for decades.
A person or family in this situation should first make sure that the alleged offense is indeed deportable. Not every crime leads to removal.
Some convictions have no immigration consequences, while others are only an issue if a person has more than one conviction or there are other special circumstances.
On a related point, it may be in a person’s best interest to challenge their conviction through an appeal or other relief. In most cases, dismissed or overturned charges do not raise immigration issues.
If a permanent resident faces removal, they may be able to get relief
If a resident of the Bay Area does wind up in immigration court removal proceedings after a conviction, they may be able to get some relief in a couple of ways.
Depending on the circumstances, most lawful permanent residents of the United States can ask for cancellation of their removal so long as they did not have a conviction for what the law describes as an “aggravated felony.”
To be eligible, a person has to have been a lawful permanent resident for 5 years and have been residing in the United States for 7 years.
Cancellation is a one-time benefit. A person may not get another waiver under this provision if they need it in the future.
Someone who has been convicted of an aggravated felony or is otherwise not eligible for cancellation may use a different provision of the law to ask a judge to grant a waiver. Another benefit is that a person can ask for this relief more than once.
On the other hand, it can be difficult for an immigrant to convince the court that they should be allowed to remain in the country. It is ultimately the court’s call whether to grant relief.
A Californian facing deportation because of a criminal conviction may have legal options to avoid having to leave their lives, and possibly their families, behind.
However, the laws are complicated. Permanent residents should, therefore, consider discussing their options with an experienced immigration attorney.