Crimes of moral turpitude may lead to visa denial or deportation

In New Jersey, crimes of moral turpitude — also known as CMITs — may affect your immigration status and visa procurement process. However, not all offenses are treated equally. The nature of the crime and when you committed it may weigh heavily in negotiations.

What is a crime of moral turpitude?

Interestingly, moral turpitude doesn’t have an official definition. Generally speaking, a crime of moral turpitude insults common morality and chafes against accepted societal norms. A 1989 case, Chadwick v. State Bar, defined it as an “act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.” In the United States, fraud, murder, domestic violence, and sexual crimes typically fall into the category.

How can CMITs affect your immigration status?

Crimes of moral turpitude can affect your immigration status, but not necessarily. The Immigration and Nationality Act includes a complicated set of rules for when CMITs impact the visa process. For example, authorities consider the number of offenses on a person’s record, the applicant’s age when they committed the crime in question, and other outstanding factors. A crime of moral turpitude charge may result in a range of immigration penalties, including deportation, visa refusal and mandatory detention. Every case is different, and immigration officers look at every situation on its own merits.

In terms of immigration matters, it’s rarely — if ever — a wise idea to lie about past indiscretions when applying for a visa or green card. If officials uncover the deception, it may lead to immediate expulsion from the country or an irrevocable denial.

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