Soon after announcing the launch of a “deferred action” program to suspend immigration enforcement actions against qualifying individuals who came to the U.S. as children, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) started to issue clarifying interpretations related to the elements needed for qualification.
Both the White House and DHS have made it clear that eligible participants in the deferred action program cannot have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors. Qualified participants cannot otherwise pose a threat to national security either.
But when has someone been “convicted of a significant misdemeanor?” To determine the answer, one must look at what constitutes a “significant misdemeanor” for purposes of the “deferred action” program, and what constitutes a conviction.
According to DHS, a “significant misdemeanor” is “a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by no more than one year of imprisonment or even no imprisonment, that involves: violence, threats or assault, including domestic violence, sexual abuse, or exploitation; burglary, larceny or fraud;, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; obstruction of justice or bribery; unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution; or the fleeing the scene of an accident; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or unlawful possession of drugs.”
A significant misdemeanor “conviction” includes any negotiated guilty plea with or without a trial, as well as any sentence decided by a judge or jury after trial. But it does not include a mere arrest or even a charge for committing a felony where that charge has been dropped prior to trial, or where a judge or jury has rendered a finding of “not guilty” on that charge, or where an appellate judge has reversed or vacated a conviction.
If you are an individual in need of immigration assistance, do not hesitate to contact our office for an appointment to speak with a qualified immigration lawyer at (847) 564-0712. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information on how we might assist you in any of a variety of ways.