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Could a Misdemeanor Conviction Impact a Green Card Renewal?


If you are a U.S. immigrant living in New Jersey or Pennsylvania and are convicted of a crime, it could affect your immigration status. This is especially true if your green card is up for renewal sometime soon, as the presence of a criminal offense on your record could be reason enough for your application to be denied. At this point, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could begin deportation proceedings.

You must renew your green card every 10 years if you are a permanent resident, and part of that process is submitting your fingerprints to the government. If you have a criminal record, your crime will be matched with your fingerprints in the FBI’s databases. This is true even for misdemeanor crimes, which are lesser crimes punishable by less than a year in prison.

Although there are some situations in which you may still have a successful green card renewal with a misdemeanor on your record, the following types of misdemeanor crimes are likely to spell trouble for your application:

  • Crimes involving “moral turpitude.” These are crimes breaking the standards of good morals and honesty. These may include fraud, harassment and other nonviolent, non-drug related crimes. Two separate misdemeanors involving moral turpitude could lead to the DHS beginning deportation proceedings.
  • Crimes of violence. Even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor act of violence, for the purposes of immigration, this constitutes an aggravated felony. One aggravated felony is grounds for removal from the country, and it is rare to obtain relief in such cases.
  • Crimes involving controlled substance violations. Any conviction of a controlled substance misdemeanor, except for possession cases involving small amounts of marijuana, is grounds for green card renewal denial and deportation from the United States.

For more information on how a misdemeanor crime could affect your immigration status, contact a knowledgeable New Jersey and Pennsylvania lawyer at the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman online or at 215-563-7100.