What the heck is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)?
If you practice Immigration law you probably run into the issue of CIMT aka crimes involving moral turpitude. But what is a crime involving moral turpitude? Who decides and how does it affect immigration? All these are good questions that your immigration lawyer should tell you. Being convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude could have big time immigration implications.
What is a Crime involving Moral Turpitude?
Unfortunately there is not a simple answer to this. The immigration laws don’t directly define but have vaguely defined it as a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man, or recently as a “reprehensible act”. CIMT involves intent to commit fraud, commit theft with intent to permanently deprive the owner, or inflict great bodily harm, as well as some reckless or malicious offenses and some offenses with lewd intent. With that definition a whole bundle of crimes can be constituted as crimes involving moral turpitude.
Who does a Crime involving Moral turpitude affect?
CIMT only affect people who are immigrants and here with a visa or green card. US citizens do not have to worry about CIMT affecting their immigration. However if you are a green card holder or another form of visa, a CIMT can greatly affect your immigration status and admissibility in the country.
How does a Crime involving Moral Turpitude affect someone?
Depending if you are here on a visa or a green card, the CIMT will affect you differently. If you are here on a immigration visa, a CIMT could make you deportable and denied readmission into the country in the future. If you are a green card holder, a CIMT could make you inadmissible when you try to re-enter the county. Example, lets say you have a green card and are convicted of a CIMT. Next time you leave the USA on vacation and try to come back in at a airport, USCIS will stop you and deem you are ineligible to enter the USA. You will then be placed in removal proceedings without bond. Thats why its important to consult with an immigration lawyer before you travel internationally if you have a criminal record.
Also if you have been convicted of a CIMT and did more than 180 days of jail time, you are ineligible for an immigration bond and have to fight your case inside of immigration detention.
So is my immigration life over if I get a Crime involving Moral Turpitude?
Depends… You may be eligible for a 212(h) waiver. This is to essentially pardon your CIMT and make you admissible into the country again. Not everyone qualifies for the 212(h) waiver. To qualify you must be a spouse, parent, son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who will face extreme hardship if the applicant is removed. There are other exceptions to this lifke if your conviction was over 15 years ago.
So what should I do if I have or am facing a CIMT?
Contact an experienced and trustworthy immigration and criminal lawyer. Let them explain it to you and give you the guidance you need. Knowing how to navigate a potential CIMT or even dealing with once after conviction, it will have consequences. Give us a call here at Zavala Texas Law to figure out how we can help you.