Convicted? Crime of Moral Turpitude & Waiver

So, you’re interested in coming to the US? First, you may need to find out if you are admissible.

Grounds for inadmissibility include health related issues and, more seriously, crimes of moral turpitude, also known as a CMT.
Any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of
1) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime, OR
2) a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the US, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance,
is inadmissible.

The question is: What exactly IS a crime of moral turpitude?

Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States that refers to “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.“ A crime of moral turpitude „refers generally to conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”

If any of the above applies to you, the good news is, there are exceptions.

The grounds for inadmissibility in 1 & 2 above shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime IF
1) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, AND the crime was committed more than 5 years before the date of application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, OR
2) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted did not exceed imprisonment for one year AND the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of six months [regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed].

Also, as it relates to inadmissibility by criminal grounds, the applicant may apply for a Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility on Form I-601 if they have been found to be inadmissible for: (1) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense); (2) a controlled substance violation according to the laws and regulations of any country as long as it relates to a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana; (3) two or more convictions (other than purely political ones), for which the combined sentences of confinement were five years or more; (4) prostitution; (5) unlawful commercialized vice whether or not related to prostitution; or (6) being an alien involved in serious criminal activity, who has asserted immunity from prosecution.

• The applicant must establish that they are inadmissible only because of participation in prostitution (including having procured others for prostitution or having received the proceeds of prostitution), but that they have been rehabilitated and their admission will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety or security of the United States; OR
• At least 15 years have passed since the activity or event that made the applicant inadmissible, they have been rehabilitated and that their admission to the United States (or issuance of the immigrant visa) will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety or security of the United States; OR
• The applicant’s qualifying U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, son, daughter, parent or K visa petitioner would experience extreme hardship if the applicant were denied admission; OR
• The applicant is an approved VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioner.

To help you get a better understanding of what may constitute as a CMT and what may not, we list examples of both below.
(1) Crimes Against the Person
(a) Involving moral turpitude
• Assault–Assault with intent to rob or kill or to commit abortion or rape
• Battery (aggravated)
• Carrying a concealed weapon with intent to use
• Child/spousal abuse
• Disorderly conduct (in certain limited circumstances)
• Driving under the influence (aggravated)
• Kidnapping
• Murder and voluntary manslaughter
• Restraint
• Robbery
• Threats; terroristic threats

(b) Not involving moral turpitude
• Assault and battery (simple)
• Battery
• Child Abandonment
• DUI involving simple DUI
• Others including: Harassing telephone calls, Kidnapping (simple) Malicious mischief, Manslaughter (involuntary), Reckless endangerment (attempted) and Weapons possession

(2) Sexual offenses
(a) Involving moral turpitude—Adultery, Bigamy, Incest, Lewdness, Oral sex, Prostitution, Rape, Statutory rape
(b) Not involving moral turpitude—Bastardy, Fornication or Mann Act violations where compulsion was not inherent in crime, Indecency, Mailing obscene letter, Maintaining a nuisance, Minors – contributing to the delinquency of, Vagrancy (when charged in lieu of prostitution)

(3) Crimes against property
(a) Involving moral turpitude: Arson, Blackmail, Burglary, Embezzlement, Food Stamp Fraud, Larceny, Illegal use of credit cards, Possession of stolen property with the knowledge it is stolen, Receipt of stolen property, Shoplifting, Stealing cellular air time, Theft, Securities fraud, Trespass (malicious)
(b) Not involving moral turpitude: Breaking and entering or unlawful entry when no intent, Burglary, Entry of goods by means of a false statement, Malicious destruction of property, Malicious mischief, Passing bad checks where intent is not a necessary element, Possession of stolen property where guilty knowledge not essential, Joyriding, Rioting, Theft of services, Unauthorized use of a vehicle

(4) Crimes against government
(a) Involving moral turpitude: Bribery, Counterfeiting, Driver’s license – use of fraudulent license, False statements on passport applications, Fleeing (aggravated) a police officer, Immigration fraud, Mail (possession of stolen mail), Mail fraud, Money laundering, Obstruction of justice, Pell Grant fraud, Stolen bus transfers, Tax evasion, Turnstile jumping (going into subway without paying) Welfare fraud
(b) Not involving moral turpitude: Alien smuggling, Conspiracy to commit offenses against U.S., Contempt of Congress, False attestation on I-9, False statements not amounting to perjury, Military crimes – desertion, Money laundering (structuring financial transactions to avoid currency, Re-entry after deportation

(5) Crimes involving fraud: Any crime involving fraud is almost always a crime of moral turpitude

(6) Misprision of Felony

(7) Violations of regulatory laws: Violations of regulatory laws generally are not CMTs.

(8) Drug Offenses: Generally, possessory offenses are not CMTs.

(9) Weapons offenses
(a) Involving moral turpitude: Use of weapons in the course of other crimes may indicate moral turpitude
(b) Not involving moral turpitude: Carrying concealed weapon

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