One of the reasons that the federal government screens potential immigrants is to ensure that the people who come into the country will benefit the population of the nation, not cause problems for people who are already citizens. That concern is why the visa application process typically involves a thorough background check, medical examination and vaccinations.
All of the restrictions around visas help protect the American public from dangerous immigrants who could pose a public safety concern due to ties that they have to terrorist organizations or public health risks they could cause due to uncontrolled pathogens in their bloodstreams. It also reduces the risk of immigrants needing state aid when they first arrive.
Securing a visa and gaining entry to the United States is not the end of the matter. Immigrants must adhere to all laws carefully or risk the loss of their visas and even deportation.
Immigrants can commit crimes after they arrive
Despite careful background checks, people can have a clean criminal background and then still find themselves facing legal issues in the United States as immigrants. Those people living in the United States while they are citizens of another country, whether as documented or undocumented immigrants, will have increased risks for any criminal charges they face.
All immigrants facing criminal charges face not just the risk of penalties such as fines and jail time but also the revocation of their visa or deportation. Certain crimes are more likely to impact an immigration case than others.
Crimes involving moral turpitude can result in the loss of your visa
Instead of providing a list of specific offenses that disqualify someone from naturalization or maintaining a visa, the federal rules for immigrants state that crimes of moral turpitude can impact someone’s eligibility.
It is possible for someone to break the law in a way that does not indicate a lack of ethics or morals. Traffic infractions or even criminal charges that stem from cultural differences could be minor issues that won’t impact someone’s long-term contributions to the United States.
Crimes of moral turpitude, on the other hand, indicate a deviation from standard morality worrisome enough to preclude someone’s ongoing presence in the United States. Most situations involving murder, drug crimes, extortion and fraud could be crimes involving moral turpitude. A range of other offenses could also fit this intentionally vague criterion.
The circumstances leading to the criminal charges and the personal opinions of the judge hearing the immigration case will influence whether an offense is a crime of moral turpitude. Given the risk of deportation or loss of their visa over a criminal charge, it makes sense that immigrants should be proactive about asserting their innocence and defending against criminal charges.