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What is a crime of moral turpitude?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2023 | Immigration Law

In United States immigration law, the concept of moral turpitude plays a defining role in determining an individual’s admissibility. It sets a standard to help ensure the safety of those already in the country isn’t negatively impacted by those coming into it.

At its core, moral turpitude refers to conduct that violates societal standards of morality, ethics and honesty. Crimes involving deceit, fraud, theft or other offenses considered contrary to moral principles fall under this category.

Impact on immigration

For non-citizens seeking entry or residence in the U.S., a history tainted by actions categorized as crimes of moral turpitude can negatively impact their ability to come into or remain in the country. Inadmissibility or potential deportation, depending on the severity and frequency of the offenses, are possible.

Determining factors

The categorization of a crime as involving moral turpitude isn’t always straightforward. Courts consider various elements, including the nature of the offense, the intent behind it and the moral implications. While some crimes unequivocally fall under this classification, others require a detailed examination based on the circumstances.

Waivers are sometimes possible

Individuals with a history involving moral turpitude might seek waivers or exceptions to mitigate its impact on their immigration status. However, obtaining such waivers is discretionary and involves a complex evaluation process.

Understanding moral turpitude within the realm of immigration law poses challenges for potential immigrants. The subjectivity inherent in figuring out the moral turpitude of an action, coupled with the evolving societal standards, adds layers of complexity to deciding immigration cases. For those who question whether certain criminal matters will affect their immigration case, seeking legal guidance is wise.