Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 11.71 (B)

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(B)  Immigration Consequences of Sentence.  There are four ways in which a criminal sentence can have profound immigration consequences:


(1)        The length of the overall sentence imposed can trigger immigration consequences;


(2)        The actual time spent in custody for one or more convictions can trigger immigration consequences;


(3)        The fact that the client is currently on probation or parole can trigger immigration consequences; and


(4)        The sentencing judgment, which forms part of the “record of conviction,” can lead to adverse immigration consequences.

The following will cover the specific immigration effects of the length of the formal sentence, the actual length of time passed in custody, and the length of the parole or probationary period.  With this knowledge counsel can determine whenever it is important to vacate or reduce the sentence in order to alter one or more of these three characteristics of a criminal sentence, so the client can obtain the corresponding immigration benefits.


The length of a sentence also offers a gauge of the seriousness of the offense, which is taken into account in many contexts in which discretionary immigration decisions are made, even where no absolute bar to relief is encountered.  Vacating or reducing the length of a sentence may be effective in reducing the negative impact of the conviction even if the conviction or sentence does not create a bar to relief.