Aggravated felonies often mean the end of the road for anyone trying to obtain a green card in the United States. This doesn't mean, however, that getting one is entirely impossible. Too often when immigration attorneys get cold calls and they learn that the potential client has an aggravated felony on their record, their immediate response is: "sorry, I can't help you." While this may often end up being the case - there are certain situations in which an individual with an aggravated felony might in fact still be eligible for a green card.
The first question to consider is to determine whether you even have a conviction. Sadly, many people who plead "nolo contendere" or no contest to a criminal charge still plead guilty for purposes of immigration law. Additionally, people who enter into pretrial diversion might, in some instances, also unknowingly enter into a conviction for immigration purposes. Under immigration law, the definition of a conviction is:
Assuming, you have a conviction for immigration purposes, the next question is to consider whether your conviction constitutes an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act includes the complete list of what constitutes an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. This list ranges from murder to fraud where the damage to the victim is in excess of $10,000 to theft or burglary offenses where the term of imprisonment is at least one year.
The moment an individual is convicted of an aggravated felony, that individual (who is not a U.S. citizen) can almost certainly expect Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer to come pick you up and put you in removal proceedings. If you already have a green card, you might be eligible to re-apply for your green card or "re-adjust" your status in the United States. If you do not have a green card yet, but are otherwise eligible for adjustment of status (meaning you entered the United States while being inspected or admitted and subsequently have a U.S. citizen immediate relative) then you can apply for adjustment of status while in removal proceedings, while at the same time seeking a waiver for your conviction.
The good news is that an aggravated felony is not a per se bar to admissibility in the United States, but the conviction might constitute another ground of inadmissibility other than an aggravated felony. Most often, a conviction of an aggravated felony also constitutes a conviction involving moral turpitude which is a ground of inadmissibility.
Ultimately, determining whether you can obtain a green card with an aggravated felony conviction involves a lot of thorough research, which many immigration attorneys are not even able to do. If you need help determining whether your particular conviction may bar you from obtaining a green card, call Louisiana immigration lawyers at Liberty Law Group for a free consultation. Allow our vast experience to guide you through the various legal landmines that might be out there. Louisiana immigration attorneys have spent years practicing and teaching immigration law.
Chris lives in Alexandria, Louisiana where he enjoys playing with his girls and being the best husband he can possibly be.