How an Arrest or Conviction Can Affect Immigration

If you are not a U.S citizen and you are arrested or charged with a crime, you could face detention or deportation, as well as punishment for the crime by criminal court. Guilty pleas and convictions can lead to arrest, detention, or deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A conviction for a felony, misdemeanor, or violation, including for seemingly minor offenses such as shoplifting, marijuana possession, or turnstile jumping can make it very difficult for you to stay in the U.S. or return to the U.S. if you travel outside the country.

Fingerprinting and Immigration Detainers (Immigration Holds)

When you are arrested and fingerprinted by the local police or sheriff, your fingerprints are sent to ICE. If ICE believes they can deport you, they can issue a detainer (also called an “immigration hold”) to the local jail. This order tells the jail to hold you in custody, even if you would normally be released. It also tells law enforcement to notify ICE before you are released from custody. This means that when the criminal case is over, or you pay bail, you might not be released from custody. Instead, you could be arrested by ICE and held in immigration detention.

In New York City, the jail will notify ICE about your release from custody if you are convicted of certain felonies. In New York City, the jail will also notify ICE if you have recently been convicted of certain felonies. If a detainer has been issued against you and the jail notifies ICE, ICE might arrest you when you are released from jail. Speak to your lawyer about what can happen if ICE issues a detainer against you.


If you do not have an immigration status

If you do not have an immigration status or if your authorized period of status has ended (for example, you overstayed your visa or you entered the country without permission), ICE might issue a detainer against you when you are fingerprinted by law enforcement.

An arrest or a criminal conviction could prevent you from getting immigration status in the future. This can include permanent residence, asylum, or other types of status. Speak to your lawyer about how the results of your case could cause ICE to detain or deport you.


If you have a lawful immigration status

Even if you have lawful immigration status (for example, current visa, entered the country with permission, etc.), if ICE believes that you could be deported from the U.S., they might issue a detainer against you when you are fingerprinted by law enforcement.

Certain criminal convictions could cause you to lose your current immigration status or prevent a permanent resident from renewing their green card. An arrest or conviction could also prevent you from changing your immigration status in the future, including becoming a U.S. citizen. Finally, an arrest, conviction, or order of protection could complicate your reentry into the U.S. after traveling outside the country. In each of these situations, ICE could start immigration court proceedings to try to deport you. Speak to your lawyer about how your criminal case could cause any possible changes to your immigration status.

If you recently became a U.S. citizen or were in the process of becoming one at the time of your arrest, it is important to tell your lawyer. You could still face consequences such as losing your citizenship, detention, or even deportation if you are convicted based on conduct from before you became a U.S. citizen.


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