Can a permanent resident with a criminal conviction travel outside the United States?

If you are a permanent resident (LPR) with criminal convictions and travel outside the United States, you may run into problems when trying to reenter the United States and should consult with an immigration lawyer before making any trips outside of the country.

The grounds of inadmissibility come up when a permanent resident seeks admission to the United States. The criminal grounds of inadmissibility include:

  • Conviction or admission of a crime involving moral turpitude
  • Conviction or admission of a controlled substance violation
  • Conviction of multiple crimes

In addition, there are several other criminal related grounds of inadmissibility.

You should keep in mind that the category of crimes involving moral turpitude is very broad. Crimes that involve a fraud element, theft offenses, sex offenses, or involve the infliction of serious bodily injury are generally classified as crimes involving moral turpitude. A conviction for one of these crimes can have serious immigration consequences.

How can you tell if any of your criminal convictions are considered to be a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude? Because of the complexity of this area of law, you should always consult with an immigration lawyer on this issue. There is no way to accurately evaluate your conviction without first doing a review of the criminal statute involved, the record of conviction and the facts of the case.

It is important to remember that the grounds of inadmissibility are different than the grounds of deportability. For example, to be deportable on the basis of a single crime of moral turpitude, the crime must have been committed within five years of your admission to the United States. A single crime of moral turpitude may make you inadmissible no matter when the crime was committed. As a result, it is possible for a permanent resident to be inadmissible but not deportable. Why is this important? If you fall into this category, you may be safe from removal proceedings so long as you do not travel overseas. Basically, if you don’t travel abroad or apply for any immigration benefit that requires admissibility, there is a good chance that you won’t be placed in removal proceedings.

Even if you travel often and have made many trips outside of the United States after your conviction, you are not safe if your criminal convictions fall under one of the grounds of inadmissibility. It is not uncommon for a permanent resident who has made multiple trips to suddenly be stopped and placed into removal proceedings because of an old conviction. Depending on your situation, you may even be placed in immigration detention (jail) upon your return to the United States. If you have any criminal convictions, you should consult with an immigration lawyer before taking any trips outside of the United States.

If you are a permanent resident, have one or more criminal convictions and plan to travel outside of the United States, I strongly encourage you to consult with an immigration lawyer prior to traveling.

About Kimberley Schaefer

Kimberley Schaefer is an immigration lawyer with offices in Boise, ID and Rexburg, Idaho. She helps future Americans become citizens by assisting them with immigrant visas, fiance visas, adjustment of status and green card applications, applying for immigration waivers, fighting deportation and applying for asylum. To contact her, you can call (208) 918-0852 or send Kimberley an email now.

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