Immigration Impact of Crimes, Misdemeanor Conviction and Petty Offense Exception

In 2008 while I was working in gas station I was caught selling alcohol to minor. I was in student visa at that time and was getting paid in cash. This was unauthorized work. I was not arrested but went to the court and the final verdict of case came to attempt to sell alcohol to minor which falls into misdemeanor C. Right now I am in H-1B and I have filed my green card through my employment. My Labor and I-140 is approved and waiting for my PD date to be current to apply I-485. So what are my chances to get I-485 approved having that case in my past? I have got mixed answers from the attorneys I have contacted so far. Some said I should be fine and some said if USCIS ask about my work authorization at that time then my petition will be denied due to violating my F-1 status. Please let me know what you think. Will USCIS go further to ask that since you are selling alcohol on F-1, then you must have violated immigration law by being employed without work authorization?

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ANSWER: 

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp4B1_qhvtM#t=2538

 

FAQ Transcript

If you have criminal conviction, lot of times you can have criminal convictions for minor problems for example you got into altercation with somebody  or some kind of public nuisance conviction, in  this  case selling alcohol to minor did not check the ID. So the question is how does that impact my immigration status?

First of all, there are 2 categories of crimes misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are anything which are punishable don't have to receive that punishment but punishable by more than a year. They are more serious crime and other is misdemeanor is year or less than a year.

So we look at the crime is misdemeanor or it is a felony, then we look whether there is moral turpitude or not. Moral turpitude is the term for dishonesty, reckless, disregard or safety of other people or attack on other people. So these are typically they call them offenses of moral turpitude. So if there is moral turpitude and there is felony chances are, you got the problem. But if there is only one misdemeanor even if it’s turpitude crime it is exempted by something called Petty offense exception. Petty offense exception says if you have only one misdemeanor and the sentence actually imposed upon you was less than 6 months, whether you actually served it or not. Even if it’s a suspended sentence it is considered to be sentence than we leave you alone, give you H-1, F-1 or Green card so petty offense exception. So once again we look at the crime if it is a crime of moral turpitude or not, if it’s not chances are you are going to be OK. If it’s a Felony of moral turpitude you have a problem. If it is only one crime misdemeanor you don't have problem, very generic overview.

Normally when I look into these cases, first thing I do is try to see if we get away from conviction. So if we get the case settled with the government, plea bargain entered without the conviction. 

What is conviction under Immigration law?

A conviction under immigration law is where you admit having committed the offense. If you have to admit the offense then it is conviction, no matter what kind of deal we make. First of all we try to get away from conviction, if there is no conviction there is no crime. If we can do that then we are safe. If we are not able to do so we bargain for misdemeanor. That’s the way typically we handle these cases. . Make sure it is misdemeanor under the state law. You say that it is misdemeanor C. I don't know what that means. State law has to be checked. But it looks that you are going to be OK. 

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Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments and blog on immigration.com

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