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by Julia Brown

Family-Based Immigration Myths- Part 1

Myth 3: I Will Be Deported If I’m Charged With a Crime

People believe that if you are charged with a crime, you will automatically be deported. This is not entirely true. It is important to understand that immigration laws are complex and subject to change often. Categories of offenses that are less likely to lead to deportation include non-violent offenses, minor traffic offenses, misdemeanors, juvenile offenses, or political offenses such as participating in a peaceful protest or civil disobedience. The results of a criminal conviction regarding deportation rely upon different factors such as the nature and seriousness of the offense, the individual’s movement status, and whether the offense is viewed as a deportable offense under immigration regulation.

            What Crimes Would Lead to Deportation?

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crimes that involve moral turpitude and aggravated felonies often lead to deportation. Moral turpitude is a category of crime that is much more ambiguous. Moral turpitude essentially means crimes that are more egregious and show a lack of good moral character. Generally, it includes crimes that involve fraud, theft, dishonesty, or an intent to harm people. Crimes involving moral turpitude thus might include relatively common offenses, such as domestic violence or other forms of assault, as well as DUI if it caused injuries. There is no comprehensive list of crimes involving moral turpitude, so you should consult an attorney to find out whether a certain crime might fall within this category.

Aggravated Felonies

Aggravated felonies will usually be crimes related to kidnapping and human trafficking, child pornography or sexual abuse, drug trafficking, murder, or rape of a minor, treason, disclosure of classified information, and operating a business of prostitution. Offenses that *might* be considered aggravated felonies include forgery/counterfeiting, perjury, burglary/receipt of stolen property, fraud, money laundering, and crimes of violence. Again, you should consult an attorney to find out whether a certain crime might fall within this category.

How are Crimes Assessed in Relation to Deportation or Inadmissibility

Are immigration consequences the same for everyone? No; immigration consequences are usually reliant on individual circumstances. some of these factors include length of residency in the country, prior criminal actions, immigration status, and history of immigration violations. The actual punishment/sentence that is given by the criminal court can often determine whether someone is deportable or inadmissible for getting a green card, which is why frequently you or your criminal attorney may need to have knowledge of immigration consequences or work in conjunction with your immigration attorney because the best strategy from a criminal law perspective can often create huge problems for an immigration application. Again, these laws are subject to change so it is best to consult with an immigration attorney.

Myth 4: Family-Based Immigration is Not Controlled

Some people believe anyone can sponsor any family member for immigration, but this is not true. Achieving a successful outcome for family-based immigration requires meeting certain eligibility criteria. Only close relatives such as children, parents, spouses, or in some cases siblings are able to sponsor family members for immigration. Anyone sponsoring a relative in an immigration application will need to show that they earn sufficient income based on a couple of factors, or need to find a US citizen or lawful permanent resident co-sponsor that does if they don’t meet the income requirements. The sponsor(s) will need to sign and submit an affidavit of support, which is essentially a contract with the government where the sponsor promises to reimburse the federal government if the sponsored immigrant relative receives certain federal government benefits prior to becoming a US citizen.

           Myth of Chain Migration

Another myth includes the belief that Family-based immigration automatically leads to “chain migration” without control. “Chain migration” refers to the fact that U.S. immigration laws allow U.S. green card holders and residents the ability to sponsor certain family members from their home countries, which will create a chain of applications that extend throughout the entire family. Although family-based immigration can result in consecutive family members immigrating to the States, there are still limits and preferences in place for this. For example, spouses, young children and parents are given priority over other people in your family.

                Family Members that Do Not Qualify

Unfortunately, there are no family visas for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or in-laws. To combat this issue of chain migration, of course, the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country under each immigrant category is capped. For example, there are only 65,000 visas available for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, as well as spouses and minor children. However, as previously stated, there is no cap for immediate relatives of US citizens (spouse, parent, or unmarried child under 21).

For more information on Family-Preference Petitions, please visit the official USCIS website:

For more information on Immediate Relative Petitions, please visit the official USCIS website:


It is best to work with a qualified and experienced immigration attorney to ensure that every factor is properly considered and taken care of. If you have any questions or need any help with your road to citizenship, do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Gian-Franco Melendez, LLC to speak with an experienced immigration attorney about your options.