In my immigration practice, one of the most common issues I come across is a theft-related crime in the background of my immigrant client. Whether a non-citizen is applying for a green card, a green card holder is coming back into the country after a trip abroad, or a green card holder is applying for naturalization, a theft-related conviction can have dire consequences.
Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit took a closer look at Virginia’s grand larceny statute, Virginia Code § 18.2-95, to see if grand larceny in Virginia constitutes a theft “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes. To be deemed an aggravated felon for a theft conviction, the immigrant must have been convicted of an actual theft offense that carries with it a term of imprisonment of at least one year. In Omargharib v. Holder, Mr. Omargharib, … Read More »
The words “aggravated felony” can be overwhelming to see if you are in removal (deportation) proceedings. Aggravated felony is an immigration term used to reference a particular type of state or federal crime. Although the word “felony” is included in the term, the underlying criminal conviction could be classified as a misdemeanor and still qualify as an “aggravated felony.”
The following are some of the criminal convictions which can be qualified as aggravated felonies in immigration court:
Murder, rape, or sexual abuse of a minor;
Drug or firearm trafficking;
Any theft or violent crime for which the defendant received a sentence of at least one year (including any suspended sentences);
Any crime involving fraud or deceit where the loss to the victim was over $10,000; and
Any conviction for attempt or conspiracy to commit an aggravated felony.
As discussed in our discussion on Deportation or Removal, there are various avenues available … Read More »
I often meet with people concerned because an immigration detainer, commonly referred to as an “ICE hold,” has been placed on their loved one after a criminal arrest. When a non-citizen is arrested by local law enforcement, immigration officials may be alerted to their presence. Should Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) have “reason to believe” that an individual is not a U.S. citizen, they will investigate to determine if the person is subject to being removed (deported) from the United States. ICE will likely place an immigration detainer on the individual in local custody while they investigate the situation.
Because they are separate from the underlying criminal charges, ICE holds can create confusion both on the part of the detained individual as well as their family members. If you or a loved one are the subject of an immigration detainer, here are … Read More »
Being charged with a criminal offense can be an anxiety-causing event for anyone. But immigrants charged with crimes face not only potential criminal punishments but also the potential impact on their immigration status from a criminal conviction. If you are an immigrant charged with a crime, here are four ways to help your criminal attorney protect your immigration status from the very beginning of your case:
Identify Your Status. It is crucial that you identify your immigration status for your criminal attorney as soon as possible. The immigration consequences of a criminal conviction can vary greatly depending on whether you are a lawful permanent resident, asylee, non-immigrant visa holder, completely without status, etc. If you are unsure of your status, make sure you bring copies of all immigration paperwork with you to the initial consultation with your criminal attorney. Immigration status should be the … Read More »
Proceedings in present day immigration court present a very stark contrast. Many cases now drag on for many months or even years before being heard. But when an immigrant’s day in court finally arrives, overcrowded court dockets often leave the judge with only a few minutes to decide the fate of the immigrant and their family.
If you or a loved one are currently going through deportation (now known as removal) proceedings in immigration court, and have filed an application for relief, you are likely aware of the sometimes extraordinary length of time it takes to resolve a case. Lengthy delays for a trial (known as an Individual Hearing) are commonplace in many of the 50+ immigration courts located in 29 states.
Our local court in Arlington, Virginia currently has five immigration judges (often referred to as IJs), after losing one to retirement earlier in the year. Perhaps … Read More »
If you or someone you love has been detained by Immigration officials you likely have many questions about the process. Non-citizens may be detained for violations of immigration law. Commonly these include: overstaying or violating a visa, entering the country illegally, or criminal convictions.
The detention process begins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) finding that you have violated an immigration law. You will then be picked up by ICE officers and taken to a local facility to process. In the Washington, D.C. area, you would go to the ICE office in Fairfax, Virginia. There, you will be formally processed and ICE will decide if they are going to release you on bond (a legal agreement where money is paid and held by the government to ensure that you will attend future hearings), release you with a monitoring system, or transfer … Read More »
The first medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C. opens this month. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have now legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes and two states have legalized its recreational use. Many people think that as long as they are abiding by state marijuana laws, they are free to partake. However, this is not always the case—especially for those who are non-citizens.
Whether or not use of marijuana is legal under state law where you live, your use of it may subject you to federal prosecution. This is because marijuana remains classified as a schedule I drug on the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under immigration law, drug offenses—such as violation of the CSA—can carry serious consequences. For non-citizens (even green card holders), a drug possession or drug trafficking conviction could result in deportation or an inability … Read More »
Receiving a notice to appear before an immigration court can raise many questions. You may have received this notice by mail or through an immigration official. This notice will contain the charges against you and the date, time, and location of your court hearing. The charges will explain why the government believes you are deportable. Some of the main reasons for deportation are criminal allegations or immigration violations including an illegal entry or a visa overstay. When you do receive a notice to appear, you want to make sure you do a few things to protect your stay in the United States.
First, make sure to attend your scheduled hearing. Ignoring the notice and not attending your hearing will only make your situation worse. If you fail to appear for your hearing, the government can have you ordered removed without your … Read More »
On April 23, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Moncrieffe v. Holder. Adrian Moncrieffe is a Jamaican national who came to the United States at the age of 3. During a 2007 traffic stop, police found 1.3 grams of marijuana in Mr. Moncrieffe’s car. This is roughly the amount of 2-3 marijuana cigarettes. In his Georgia criminal case, Mr. Moncrieffe agreed to a plea for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He received no jail time and was placed on probation. As a result of this conviction, Mr. Moncrieffe was placed in immigration proceedings ultimately resulting in his deportation. The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with the Immigration Judge and the 5th Circuit denied review. The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that his marijuana charge was improperly classified as an aggravated felony under … Read More »