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Moral turpitude and immigration

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2023 | Immigration Law

The term moral turpitude is often found in immigration cases. It has significant implications for non-citizens in the United States. It’s crucial to understand what moral turpitude means and how it could potentially impact your immigration status.

Moral turpitude refers to acts that violate the moral standards of a community. While the concept is broad and open to interpretation, it generally encompasses crimes involving dishonesty, theft and acts that harm others. 

What is moral turpitude?

There isn’t a comprehensive list of crimes classified as involving moral turpitude, but they usually include offenses like fraud, theft, assault and certain types of drug and sex crimes. Some lesser offenses might not be considered crimes involving moral turpitude, but it’s up to the interpretation of the immigration authorities.

Acts of moral turpitude can significantly impact your ability to enter or stay in the United States. Convictions for such crimes can cause you to be denied a visa or green card. If you’re already in the country, a conviction could lead to deportation proceedings. 

Waivers and exceptions

Sometimes, individuals can apply for a waiver to overcome inadmissibility due to moral turpitude. The availability and success of these waivers depend on several factors, such as the severity of the crime and how long ago it occurred. Obtaining a waiver is a complicated process and isn’t guaranteed.

While acts of moral turpitude generally hurt immigration, there are some exceptions. Knowing these exceptions can be vital in preparing a solid immigration case, so work with someone familiar with these cases if you think you may violate the moral turpitude requirement for immigration.