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Regardless of whether you are applying for permanent residency or have already received green card status, a violation of US law could void your eligibility for an immigrant visa or even lead to the cancellation of your green card. In most cases, the US government declares immigrants unacceptable if they are convicted or confessed to moral baseness or serious crimes. As a foreigner residing in the country, you are required to comply with local laws. The classification of felonies may vary slightly from state to state, so it is in your best interest to consult a lawyer.

Minor traffic violations and other non-criminal offenses are unlikely to affect your immigration status. Convictions for crimes committed in the past ten years can be problematic and constitute a crime of inadmissibility. Fortunately, there are always exceptions, depending on the crime’s severity, circumstances, and outcome. Terrorism and espionage crimes are understandably inexcusable. Many immigrant criminals face immediate deportation or being detained indefinitely before being sent back to their home countries. Convictions for serious or particularly serious crimes can lead to a crime of inadmissibility, which means that you can never legally cross the US border again in the future.

Therefore, if you face any criminal charges, you must act quickly to prevent conviction. In addition to consulting with an immigration attorney to find out your options, you will need to work with a criminal attorney to reduce or eliminate your costs. In certain cases, it is potentially possible to obtain a full or unconditional pardon. A conditional acquittal may also allow you to remain in the United States under more stringent conditions. Your attorney will help you determine if a plea bargain might be beneficial or opposed to your case.

What crimes can get a US visa or green card denied?

denied green card

If you are applying for a US visa or green card, government officials reviewing your application will take steps to make sure you have not committed a crime of inadmissibility. However, a criminal record tends to be a rather serious problem for many immigrants. The reasons for this include various crimes, infectious diseases, past immigration violations, and the likelihood of a need for public financial assistance. However, not every reported crime makes them unacceptable.

The grounds for recognizing an immigrant as a crime of inadmissibility may be:

  • A conviction for a crime of moral licentiousness, including any attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime; this excludes crimes committed under 18 years old, provided that the person was released from prison more than five years before the visa application. The exception also applies to crimes for which the maximum sentence did not exceed one year in prison, and the person was not sentenced to imprisonment for more than six months.
  • A conviction for controlled substances violations under US or foreign law; this includes any conspiracy to commit such a crime.
  • A conviction for two or more crimes for which the person was sentenced in total to imprisonment for at least five years.
  • A conviction for or involvement in drug trafficking, as reported by the US government; this includes anyone who knowingly helped, abetted, or participated in drug trafficking. For such crimes, you can get a waiver in the green card; this also applies to the spouse and children of the applicant who is ineligible for consideration if they have received any financial or other benefits from illegal activities in the past five years and knew where the funds came from.
  • Intention to provide sex services upon arrival in the United States or similar history.
  • Pimping or attempted pimping, earning income from prostitution within the previous ten years.
  • Obtaining immunity from prosecution after committing a serious criminal offense in the United States, if the person can thus leave the States and has not since been brought before an appropriate court.
  • Committing particularly serious violations of freedom of religion while working in a foreign government.
  • Committing or conspiring to commit trafficking crimes within or outside the United States, inciting or conspiring with traffickers, as disclosed by the US government. This statement also applies to the spouse and children of the applicant who is ineligible for consideration if they have received any financial or other benefits from illegal activities in the past five years and knew where the funds came from.
  • A conviction for an aggravated felony if the person has been expelled from the United States and is trying to return (this ground is valid for 20 years).
  • Desire to enter the United States to engage in money laundering and have a history of money laundering or aiding money laundering.

This list does not include individuals deemed to be a threat to the security of the United States.

How are immigrant crimes solved?

Every time someone applies for a visa or green card, they must indicate if they have ever been arrested and convicted of a crime. Of course, some people lie in their claims, but in many cases, lies are discovered because fingerprint verification is a requirement for most applications. When the applicant is caught lying, they are deprived of the right to receive almost all immigration benefits in the United States in the future and can receive a waiver in the green card. If there is a crime in your history, or you see anything on the above list that makes you question your admissibility to enter the United States, be sure to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Perhaps the above grounds for refusal do not apply to you, or you may qualify for a so-called waiver of a crime of inadmissibility. Still, you will need the help of a lawyer to determine a further course of action.


  • How long can you stay outside the United States with a green card?

    The green card holder is free to enter and exit the United States.
  • What does a green card give in America?

    Green Card allows you to: – Enter/leave the United States without the risk of being refused by the immigration officer at the airport (port) of arrival. – The right to work for any company located in the United States. (The only exceptions are those organizations that, by statute, must employ only US citizens.)
  • Can parents be picked up with a green card?

    A person who is a US citizen is eligible to petition for permanent resident status (Green Card) for their parents.
  • What are the benefits of the Green Card?

    It is much easier for green card holders to look for work and housing. Moreover, you can count on better options, it is cheaper to get an American education, loan rates for green card holders have been reduced, and permanent residents of the United States have the opportunity to enjoy all American rights.

Read also:

All you need to know about Green Card application

How to Convert your O-1 Visa into the EB-1 Green Card

If you have questions or you are interested in relocating to the USA, contact us.