Crimes & Immigration Status
For anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen, its important to remember that criminal offenses, even some minor offenses, can have severe immigration consequences. Criminal offenses, even if dismissed, could lead to visa revocations, make you inadmissible to the U.S., subject to deportation proceedings, or effect your ability to remain in or return to the U.S. It is very important for all non-citizens to consult with an immigration attorney any time they have had contact with the criminal justice system regardless of the outcome.
In Texas, there are several procedural mechanisms that avoid "conviction" under state law, such as deferred adjudication, deferred disposition, pre-trial intervention, pre-trial diversion, sealing, or vacaturs. Nevertheless, immigration law has its own unique definition of conviction. For example, if you agree to deferred adjudication to avoid a conviction under Texas law, that choice may still be considered a "conviction" according to immigration law. See Matter of Ozkok, 19 I&N Dec. 546 (BIA 1988) (finding a defendant who had successfully completed a probationary period of three years and 100 hours of community service was determined to have been "convicted" for purposes of determining deportability under the Immigration and Nationality Act).
In certain counties, the accused who qualify for pre-trial intervention or pre-trial diversion must plead guilty to the underlying facts. The plea of guilty to the underlying facts could potentially be considered a conviction under immigration law.
It's also important to know that even when state records have been sealed or expunged, records from the arrest or criminal charges (even those that did not result in conviction) may still be accessible by federal agencies and systems. State court orders for expungement, non-disclosure, or sealing records does not mandate a federal agency to delete their system records. In addition, a mugshot, newspaper article, or other social media record may be discoverable by the general public and federal agencies on the internet.
INA § 212(a)(2) lists the crimes that make a person inadmissible to the U.S., and INA § 237 (a)(2) lists the crimes that make a person deportable from the U.S. However, you may feel that the INA is vague. For example, it may be unclear what exactly a "crime involving moral turpitude" is. That is because the definitions have been extensively shaped by specific court cases ("caselaw"). This is one of the many reasons AFS encourages Bobcats to schedule an appointment to discuss potential immigration consequences.
The Attorney for Students Office is comprised of three attorneys with more than 35 years of combined legal experience. Additionally, the Attorney for Students Office has over ten years of immigration experience, so Bobcats can rest assured that their case is in good hands.
Our office--including attorneys and all of our office staff--is bound by the duty of confidentiality and attorney-client privilege. Any communication you make with our office, including phone calls, emails, or in-person and virtual meetings, are protected and privileged. Information about your status or other personal information is safe here.
To make an appointment with an immigration lawyer, give us a call at (512) 245-2370. Be sure to have your student ID # (ex: A01234567) available to schedule an appointment.