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Aggravated felonies can cost you the right to naturalization

An aggravated felony is one kind of crime that can lead to deportation. In 1996, Congress expanded what an aggravated felony is when considered in an immigration context. Since then, the United States has held that anyone who committed an aggravated felony since Nov. 29, 1990 is unable to apply for naturalization because of being unable to establish good moral character.

Those who were convicted of an aggravated felony before Nov. 29, 1990 can still apply for naturalization and aren't barred from naturalization permanently. However, the individual's offense is still taken seriously and can be considered by the immigration officer who is deciding on the case. If the immigration officer believes the person doesn't have the moral character to continue with naturalization, then the individual may not be able to establish good moral character and be unable to apply for naturalization.

What constitutes an aggravated felony in the immigration context?

Offenses that require as little as one year of imprisonment can qualify as aggravated felonies. Interestingly, it doesn't matter if the court suspends the sentence; the length of imprisonment ordered is considered for the purposes of naturalization even if it's not served.

What are some aggravated felonies that bar people from naturalization?

Some aggravated felonies include money laundering offenses over $10,000, illicit trafficking of controlled substances, rape, murder, alien smuggling, document fraud and prostitution offenses.

Accusations of an aggravated felony have to be taken seriously. Defend yourself and your right to naturalization by getting the help you need. Our website has more on the importance of a strong defense in your case.

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