Immigration Law: All About Crimes of Moral Turpitude

by 48 Minutes | Tuesday, Aug 8, 2017 | 253 views

Two lawyers smiling for the cameraAmong the most ambiguous terms utilized in immigration law is the “crime of moral turpitude.” For instance, a court in Utah could consider a specific conviction or charge as a crime or moral turpitude. But, a court in New York could consider a similar or even the same conviction not a crime of moral turpitude. Because of this, consular officials can make wrongful determinations, explains a top immigration attorney in Utah.

What Is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

In general, a crime of moral turpitude is a crime that an offender committed with evil intent, such as:

  • fraud
  • larceny
  • harming individuals, things or property
  • rape
  • murder
  • robbery
  • arson
  • theft
  • assault
  • kidnapping
  • burglary
  • embezzlement
  • blackmail
  • extortion

According to immigration law, an individual convicted of committing a crime of moral turpitude could be permanently banned from entering the US. However, there are specific exemptions from this rule. (e.g., individuals who have committed the offense while they were below 18 years old or those convicted of a crime that could be a petty offense).

To be eligible for the age exemption, the offender should have committed the crime five years or more before the visa application date. There are qualifications for the exemption of petty offense. The maximum possible penalty for the offender’s crime shouldn’t have exceeded one year. Also, the offender’s prison sentence must not have exceeded six months.

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What if a foreign national was inadmissible but could qualify for the mentioned exemptions? They could try getting a non-immigrant waiver. However, this is only available for foreign nationals who have undergone rehabilitation. That is, if it has been over 15 years since committing the crime. Another eligibility for the non-immigrant waiver is if a parent, child, or spouse of a legal permanent resident or US citizen has petitioned them. But, they have to provide proof of extreme hardship.

Main Takeaway

The intersection of immigration law and criminal law is complex. It is easily subject to erroneous interpretations. Simply put, you would need legal aid if you’re trying to enter the US but deemed inadmissible because of a past conviction. That is, if it was a crime of moral turpitude.

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