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Criminal Immigration Consequences – Inadmissible vs. Deportable

There are generally two classes of problem that you need to be worried about as a non-citizen facing criminal charges. The first is which outcomes will make you deportable, and the second is which outcomes will make you inadmissible. Some criminal acts will make you deportable if you are already in proceedings, but would not otherwise result in your deportation. Admissibility and deportability are separate issues, with separate, but very similar, sources of law governing them.

If you are deportable, you may be removed from the United States even after having made been lawfully admitted.

If you are inadmissible, you will not be allowed to lawfully enter the United States.

Remaining admissible is important, even for people that are in the United States and have no plans to ever leave the country. Your presence in the United States does not necessarily mean that you have been admitted. An admission is defined in INA ยง 101 as the lawful entry of the alien into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer, subject to various exceptions. If you entered the United States without inspection (EWI), especially since 1997, you may not have been admitted, even though you have been here for some time.

If you become inadmissible for a criminal reason, even if you are an LPR, you will not be able to take trips abroad and expect to be allowed back in the United States upon your return. A legal permanent resident (LPR) making a short trip out of the country and returning is not generally an admission for purposes of immigration law, but as a special exception, if you are inadmissible for a criminal reason, or you have commited a crime while out of the country, your return is an admission.

If a criminal act makes you deportable, you may be removed from the United States, even if you have been lawfully admitted and remain within the country.