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Immigration Crimes of Moral Turpitude

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How Does Moral Turpitude Apply in Immigration and Deportation?

If your immigration visa has been denied for reasons of moral turpitude, you may have two questions: What exactly is moral turpitude? And why does it apply to me?

In the context of immigration and deportation cases, the Foreign Service Officers, Judges, or case administrators who determine immigration and deportation status, may reject immigration applications or approve deportation declarations based on moral turpitude.

What Is Moral Turpitude?

According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, moral means "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior," while turpitude means "inherent baseness or depravity."

In a legal context, the definition is conduct considered contrary to social standards or that exhibits a lack of honesty, good morals, or a sense of justice. Crimes of moral turpitude are intentionally or inherently evil and considered vile by society at large.

Which Crimes Are Crimes of Moral Turpitude?

Crimes that the immigration courts believe exhibit moral turpitude include violent crimes like rape, sexual assault, solicitation, prostitution, or murder. However, this list also includes nonviolent crimes such as robbery, forgery, and fraud.

If you have been convicted of one of these crimes, or another crime that qualifies as a crime of moral turpitude, you may be determined inadmissible to the U.S., or in some cases, subject to removal.

What Crimes Are Not Categorized as Moral Turpitude Violations?

It may seem like many crimes qualify under this category, but not every crime does. Although the exact number of crimes varies by jurisdiction, crimes like fighting, simple assault or public drunkenness are generally not considered crimes of moral turpitude.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

If you have a criminal record, an attorney can help you determine whether or not moral turpitude will be an issue for you in your immigration application or in your fight against deportation or removal from the United States. Speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney to find out how your criminal history might affect your chances.

Photo of page author Gabrielle Hollingsworth

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-05-2015 04:10 PM PDT

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