When it comes time to renew your green card, one of the questions you’ll be asked is if you were arrested, or committed any violations. If you’ve received a traffic ticket, even for something minor, you must answer “yes,” no matter how minor. Because if you answer “no,” they’ll find out anyway. Not telling the truth can definitely have an effect on your green card renewal. But a ticket, especially for something minor, doesn’t necessarily mean your green card won’t be approved.
Getting A Ticket
Since becoming a US citizen takes a long time, a “green card” can give you the time you need to stay in the US while your citizenship is being processed. If you acquire a driver’s license in the US, you’ll also have to follow the laws for driving a car in the state where you live.
You may find yourself with a ticket one day. Don’t ignore it, take care of it. An attorney who understands how traffic court operates can help you so that it doesn’t become a bigger problem.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will ask you about any arrests, tickets or other infractions. As embarrassing as it can be to admit, you should always say “yes.”
After you fill out Form I-90 with USCIS, you’ll also be required to submit fingerprints, which are forwarded to the FBI. After the FBI receives your fingerprints, they’re checked against multiple law enforcement database. If you’ve received a citation of any kind (or have an arrest), the FBI will know immediately.
Obviously, serious felonies crimes will most certainly affect your green card, and possibly derail your citizenship. But a misdemeanor is a different story.
Under US Immigration Law, a misdemeanor is one that:
- Is punishable by one year or less of imprisonment
- Is punishable by more than one year’s imprisonment, but is a misdemeanor by state law, as long as the sentence the individual actually received was one year or less.
Most minor traffic tickets are misdemeanors, and won’t cause a problem for your green card renewal, as long as you don’t lie about it.
However, federal immigration laws are different than most state laws regarding misdemeanors. This means that some things considered misdemeanors at the state level may actually be a felony under federal immigration laws.
What Is A Crime For Immigration
Crimes that will affect your immigration are any misdemeanors involving:
- Drug/controlled substance violations
- Any crime involving violence
- Any crime involving moral turpitude
Conviction of a crime that involves violence is a felony under immigration law, even if it’s considered a misdemeanor at the state level, and is grounds for immediate removal from the US. (If you’re accused of a crime involving violence, contact an immigration attorney immediately.)
Conviction of two crimes involving moral turpitude that were not from a single act is grounds for removal by DHS. This is true of crimes that the state considers a misdemeanor. However, a single act of moral turpitude would not be enough for DHS to initiate removal if the maximum sentence at the state level is less than one year.
Conviction of a controlled substance violation, which includes paraphernalia, is also grounds for denial of your green card and removal, even if the state considers it a misdemeanor. The exception is for less than 30 grams of marijuana.
Particularly difficult is the possession of marijuana, which is actually legal in a number of states (but not in North Carolina.) While less than 30 grams is not grounds for denial of your green card and removal, it is grounds for inadmissibility. This means if you leave the US, you can be denied re-entry. You’ll have to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility to be allowed back into the US.
Ticketed In Raleigh? Call Today
A traffic ticket probably isn’t the end of the world, but it can cause problems, especially if you ignore it. Don’t let a traffic ticket raise your insurance rates or cause problems getting or renewing your green card.
If you have received a traffic ticket and would like to learn more about your options, contact Dewey P. Brinkley in Raleigh, NC. You can use our online contact form or call our offices any time or call 919-832-0307. We look forward to hearing from you.