South Carolina residents interested in immigration issues may wish to know more about how conviction for a crime can affect visa eligibility. Depending on the nature of the crime, that prior conviction could prevent them from entering the United States.
When applying for a visa to come to the U.S., a person may be denied an immigrant visa if they are found to have a prior conviction for crimes of moral turpitude. Under U.S. law, a crime of moral turpitude is defined as a crime that includes one or more elements that courts have determined to involve moral turpitude. What is important here is the offense itself, not the specific acts that led to that offense. However, if the offense was political in nature or when it has multiple divisible sections, then evidence of the underlying act may be relevant.
The crimes that constitute moral turpitude generally involve one of three major elements: the intent to harm either people or property, larceny, or fraud. The intent to harm people or things can be found in many different offenses, from arson to assault. Fraud is generally found where there is an intentional misrepresentation of facts to another person. Various types of crimes committed against a government also fall under the definition of moral turpitude, including bribery, perjury and counterfeiting.
Due to the vast number of crimes of moral turpitude recognized by U.S. courts, it can be helpful to consult with an attorney prior to applying for a visa. The attorney may be able to assess the prior conviction and determine a person's eligibility for entry into the U.S. The attorney may also be helpful in representing a client during deportation defense to ensure that their due process rights are respected.