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Impact of an aggravated felony on immigration

Maryland is home to many people who have left their countries and are trying to establish a new base for themselves in America. Once they find jobs in the state, they often begin the process to become American citizens, a process that can take a lot of time but can be very beneficial for immigrants in the long run. One of the things immigrants must demonstrate in order to become a citizen is good moral character and a prison record can interfere with this.

As mentioned in a previous post, robbery or other types of felonies, such as rape, murder, various sexual offenses and crimes of violence carry with them a sentence of longer than one year. When the minimum prison term is of one year, the felony qualifies as an aggravated felony and an applicant who has been convicted of an aggravated felony becomes permanently barred from establishing the good moral character requirement for naturalization.

It is important to note that what is considered is the period of confinement the court orders, not whether the court has suspended the sentence or not. This means that when the court orders a sentence of more than one year but suspends the whole sentence, the applicant would still be considered to be convicted of an aggravated felony and be ineligible to file for naturalization.

Many people wait their whole lives for the opportunity to become an American citizen and are unaware that they can lose their chance due to criminal convictions of a specific type. This is why it is very important to take felony charges seriously and be prepared to fight them aggressively from the onset.

Source: USCIS, "Chapter 4: Permanent bars to GMC," Accessed on June 13, 2016

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013