Criminal Waivers

Criminal Waivers

Did you commit a crime after you were granted a green card, traveled outside the US, then put in deportation proceedings when you tried to re-enter?
Did you get arrested for conviction of drug possession and are now worried about being deported?
Did misdemeanor crimes you committed but served no jail time for land you in removal?


If you answered yes to any of the questions above, consult an immigration attorney immediately. Certain crimes, even if they seem minor such as a misdemeanor, can have serious consequences for your immigration case and ability to stay in the U.S. even if you are a permanent resident. Even a simple misdemeanor possession of a drug that you took during a party or at a music festival can result in your deportation.

Permanent residents or green card holders can be deported for even:

  • one crime of “moral turpitude” that is committed within five years after the date of their admission to the U.S. if the crime has a possible sentence of 1 year or longer even if the judge only gave you 3 months or no jail time at all; or
  • one aggravated felony crime at any time after admission, a term of art (not all state or federal felonies are aggravated under federal immigration law. But even some misdemeanors are considered aggravated felonies in some jurisdictions!); or
  • one drug possession offense (no matter if it was a misdemeanor or felony and the amount of the drug), with one limited exception;
  • and more.

There are multiple types of crimes that can subject a permanent resident to deportation. This area of law is ever changing and complicated because the courts are constantly interpreting whether state laws meet the definition within the federal Immigration & Nationality Act to make you deportable. Work with an attorney who stays up on the case law and can help you strategize what your options may be.

Undocumented immigrants and non-permanent residents

Those who are not green card holders (and even green card holders who are returning from a trip abroad) may be charged as inadmissable, not deportable. Even though you may find yourself in the same situation – in removal proceedings, how you’re charged on paper makes a huge difference. Certain deportable crimes are not inadmissable crimes (for instance, unlawful use of a firearm or conviction of a domestic violence offense may be a deportable crime but may not be an inadmissable crime that would block a green card from being approved). Certain crimes do not block issuance of a green card but they can strip you of your green card if you have one already and result in your removal from the U.S.  But there are also negatives to being charged as inadmissable because even admission to a possession of an illegal substance could block your green card from being issued as opposed to being charged as removable, you have to have an actual conviction as a permanent resident for the government to remove you.

This is complicated stuff.  Even if you are stuck with a crime that makes you inadmissable or deportable and you’re facing an Immigration Judge who is deciding your fate, there may be a waiver available to you. Most criminal waivers require that you establish that either:

    1. the criminal activities you were convicted of happened more than 15 years before their application for adjustment of status (the green card process in the US) and approving the case would not be contrary to national welfare, safety or security, and that you have been rehabilitated; OR
    2. you have a US citizen or permanent resident spouse, parent, son or daughter who would suffer extreme hardship if your waiver was denied and you were deported (i.e., the waiver case was denied).

There are other ways to apply for the waiver but these are the most common.  And there are exceptions to everything in Immigration law – not all crimes are covered under this waiver. This waiver does not waive aggravated felonies, for example.

There are also other types of waivers that you may qualify for or other types of relief to get you out of removal. In all cases the approval of waiver applications are discretionary and require considerable experience and expertise. SGG’s team of removal and family immigration attorneys have combined court, agency, and appellate experience of over 50 years in nothing but federal immigration law. We focus on only these types of cases so we can present the best possible strategy and recommendations to our clients and give them the strongest chance of winning and getting themselves out of removal proceedings. If you’re not sure whether you have a crime which would qualify for a waiver or need our help, consult today with one of our attorneys to review your options. Deportation relief, including waivers, can be time-sensitive and deadlines must be met or you lose your shot. Don’t wait. Find the answers you need today.

For more information about working with an SGG on your criminal deportation case, click here or call us at 213.627.8997 today to book a detailed Case Evaluation appointment with an experienced family and removal immigration attorney.