Family Violence in the Effect of a Person Who’s on an H1B Visa

Family Violence in the Effect of a Person Who’s on an H1B Visa

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Each minute, an intimate partner physically abuses nearly 20 people in the U.S., translating to almost 10 million people in a year. Family violence is a serious crime that can render the perpetrator ineligible to enter the U.S. on any visa or a visa waiver, including the H1B Visa. If the accused is already in the country, a conviction could result in him/her being deported and barred from readmission. 

Suppose you are on an H1B visa and face domestic violence charges. In that case, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. With an in-depth understanding of the consequences of criminal convictions on immigrant visa status. At Starr Law, P.C., our seasoned attorneys will fight to change your conviction to one that doesn’t attract stark immigration consequences such as deportation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

What Is an H1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa allowing U.S. employers to recruit expatriate workers with specialized skills to work and reside in the U.S. for a given period.  Occupations that qualify for the H1B visa are in industries such as:

  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
H1B visa application form with pen and passport on the table.

Ways Family Violence Conviction Could Negatively Impact Your H1B Visa Application and Status

Any noncitizen of the U.S. on an H1B visa should be careful to avoid inadmissibility in the immigration law landscape. Inadmissibility is a legal concept that bars one from entering the U.S. or getting a visa due to issues such as criminal history. Domestic violence isn’t expressly named in law as a crime that could make a person inadmissible. However, it could still result in inadmissibility and thus impact your H1B visa status.  Here are some ways family violence can make your H1B Visa application inadmissible:

When Family Violence Matches “Crime Involving Moral Turpitude”(CIMT)

One of the typical ways a family violence conviction could make a noncitizen inadmissible in the U.S. and, therefore, not eligible for an H1B visa application or renewal is if it matches the CIMT criteria. A straightforward definition of CIMT is a crime deemed outright vile or depraved.  Generally, an immigration judge or U.S. government official determines whether family violence is CIMT. Crimes of domestic violence that  count as CIMTs include:

  • Sexual battery
  • Child abuse
  • Rape
  • Felony false imprisonment
  • Lewd acts and sex crimes touching on a child under 18

When Family Violence Matches Aggravated Felony

Applicants of H1B visas are likely to face harsher consequences if a family violence crime marched aggravated felony. According to the U.S. immigration law, aggravated felony carries severe immigration consequences for noncitizens convicted of such crimes. Regardless of your immigration status, an aggravated felony conviction bares you from getting any relief that could otherwise have spared you from deportation, asylum, and readmission to the U.S.

When Can a Domestic Violence Conviction Viewed as an Aggravated Felony?

Family violence may be viewed as an aggravated felony if it suits a “crime of violence” as defined in the 18 U.S.C. §16. In this regard, a crime of domestic violence for immigration purposes is one committed against a current or former spouse, any individual that the defendant has a child with, a live in-romantic partner, or any other person protected under the domestic or violence laws of the U.S. A family violence crime is likely to be considered a crime of violence. This results in an aggravated felony conviction if:

  • It was intentional
  • It included force
  • It attracted more than a one-year jail term.
Wooden figures and gavel on the table.

How Can a Family Violence Conviction Affect Your H1B Visa Status?

Suppose the courts regard your domestic violence conviction as CIMT or an aggravated felony. In that case, it will automatically put you at risk of mandatory detention, deportation, ineligibility for relief from deportation and prevent you from reentering the U.S. Such a conviction will impact your H1B visa status. This makes it impossible to continue working in the U.S. or migrate to the country for employment purposes.

Suppose they arrest you for domestic violence which is an aggravated felony. In that case, you and your defense attorney must implement a defense strategy that, at minimum, reduces the crime you are facing from a CIMT or aggravated felon to a petty offense. 

Will I Get a Hearing Before Being Deported for Family Violence?

Visa holders and lawful permanent residents, such as green card holders, have a right to a formal hearing with an immigration judge before being removed. They can also appeal any adverse verdict to the Board of Immigration Appeals. However, if you are in the U.S. illegally, you won’t get a chance to have a formal hearing.

Can I Still Qualify for an H1B Visa With a Family Violence Charge?

You can still qualify for an H1B visa application or renewal if a domestic violence charge falls under a “petty offense” exception. This exception occurs if the maximum jail term you would have faced is one year or less and you were not sentenced to more than six months of imprisonment. 

Client holding a pen while consulting with a defense attorney.

Why You Need a Defense Attorney 

Generally, the threshold to prove aggravated felony charges on domestic violence crime is quite high. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid a conviction or reduce the charges to a petty offense. The attorney can negotiate a plea bargain to a non-removable offense. They can also advise you to plead to an offense that doesn’t trigger mandatory deportation or inadmissibility. Even when you have been convicted, an experienced lawyer can help you obtain one or all of the following:

  • Asylum, hardship waiver, T or U visa: such relief can allow you to remain in the U.S. despite your conviction. 
  • Reduction of a wobbler conviction to a misdemeanor: your attorney can file a motion to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor during your sentencing hearing. This may lead to a instead of prison time. 
  • Post-conviction relief, like a writ of habeas corpus, asks the court to vacate or modify a judgment or conviction. It can reduce or alter a sentence.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Family violence can be regarded as a crime of violence and an aggravated felony. A conviction for these crimes can adversely affect your H1B visa status, leading to possible deportation or inadmissibility. If you or someone you care about has been charged with family violence, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Starr Law, P.C.  We will fight hard to keep you out of jail and ensure your continued stay in the U.S. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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