Consequences of Criminal Behavior for Permanent Residents
The United States is a law-abiding society. Permanent residents, or green card holders, in the United States must obey the laws. If you are a permanent resident and engage in or are convicted of a crime in the United States, you could have serious problems. You could be removed from the country, refused re-entry into the United States if you leave the country, lose your permanent resident status, and, in certain circumstances, lose your eligibility for U.S. citizenship. Examples of crimes that may affect your permanent resident status include:
1. A crime defined as an aggravated felony, which includes crimes of violence that are felonies with a one-year prison term;
2. Murder;
3. Rape;
4. Sexual assault against a child;
5. Illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people; and
6. A crime of moral turpitude, which, in general, is a crime with an intent to steal or defraud, a crime where physical harm is done or threatened, a crime where serious physical harm is caused by reckless behavior, or a crime of sexual misconduct.
There are also serious consequences for you as a permanent resident if you:
1. Lie to get immigration benefits for yourself or someone else;
2. Say you are a U.S. citizen if you are not;
3. Vote in a federal election or in a state or local election open only to U.S. citizens;
4. Are a habitual drunkard or someone who is drunk or uses illegal drugs most of the time;
5. Are married to more than one person at the same time;
6. Fail to support your family or to pay child or spousal support as ordered;
7. Are arrested for domestic violence (domestic violence is when someone assaults or harasses a family member, which includes violating a protection order);
8. Lie or present fake documents to get public benefits or defraud any government agency;
9. Fail to file tax returns when required;
10. Willfully fail to register for the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26; and
11. Help someone else who is not a U.S. citizen or national to enter the United States illegally even if that person is a close relative and you are not paid.
If you have committed or have been convicted of a crime, you should consult an immigration lawyer before applying for any other additional immigration benefits.