In the year 1991 permanent resident aliens who left the country for a short trip where not considered as seeking admission at the time they arrive to the United States Port of entry, therefore, the commission of a crime did not pose the risk that it poses at the present time.
Permanent Resident Aliens are subject to grounds of deportation set under section 237 of the INA. During Deportation proceedings, the government has the burden of proof, therefore, the government bears the burden to prove that the permanent resident alien is a deportable alien.
If a Permanent Resident alien is attempting to enter the United States at any of the port of entries, and his record of criminal conviction appears on the CBP government screening security system, the Permanent Resident Alien can be considered an Alien Seeking Admission and therefore subject to section 212 of the INA, grounds of inadmissibility. Aliens seeking admission are placed on removal proceedings and they have the burden to prove that they are admissible, the government bears no burden of proof other than alienage ( that the alien is a foreigner from another country).
The criminal grounds of inadmissibility are different to the Criminal Grounds of Deportability, therefore a crime that renders an alien deportable does not render an alien inadmissible and vice versa.
Therefore, Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) also known as “green card holders” who have criminal convictions may encounter problems when attempting to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad and should consult an immigration attorney before planning any trips outside of the country.
Starting 2003 the Department of Homeland Security has implemented an airport screening system to identify green card holders with past criminal convictions. Even if a permanent resident has previously been re-admitted to the United States without encountering any problems, he could find himself subject to “removal proceedings” upon a subsequent return to the U.S. based on old criminal convictions, and it has become of most common occurrence than expected.
The rights of aliens at the port of entry are not the same rights than a person inside the United states Territory. The rights to due process and the right to have an attorney are not present and therefore it is more difficult to prevent the commencement of any removal or deportation proceedings than if the person is already admitted to the United States.
Upon returning to a U.S. airport or border transit area, LPRs who have a prior criminal conviction if they are identified are diverted to “secondary inspection” for questioning. Normally they are then given an appointment with the Deferred Inspections Unit which will verify the criminal record and he will be served with a Notice to Appear for a deportation or Removal hearing in U.S. Immigration Court, depending whether or not the Permanent Resident was considered seeking admission or not.
The Department of Homeland Security’s criminal conviction database is up to date and very accurate. Criminal convictions, even those that may have taken place many years in the past, are most part of the time identified by the authorities and are placed on removal proceedings facing the possibility to be removed/deported to their country of Nationality despite the fact that they have been living for several years in the United States and have been in and out of the US territory multiple times without encountering any type of problem.
Though not every criminal conviction may lead to inadmissibility, certain types of convictions can have serious consequences on one’s immigration status. These include
Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
– Conviction of a controlled substance violation
– Conviction for a firearm offense;
– Conviction of multiple crimes
When you travel abroad and return to the U.S., you force the government to make a decision whether to re-admit you, initiate proceedings to cancel your green card or deport you. Therefore, it is essential to consult an immigration attorney to discuss with you the immigration consequences for the particular crime you have been convicted before traveling outside the United States even for a short period of time.