Justin Bieber’s recent arrest in Florida for DUI, street racing and resisting arrest without violence has people talking about immigration as the singer is not an American citizen. Bieber is a Canadian residing in the U.S. on a performance visa known as an O-1 visa, described by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) as follows: “The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.[i]” If convicted on pending and possible charges from several recent incidents, Bieber could be deported, according to one Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agent quoted in the article, “Justin Bieber Drugs, Rehab and Deportation According to ICE Official.[ii]”
Nonimmigrant visas can be revoked for several reasons including criminal conduct.
When a nonimmigrant visa applicant seeks a visa to come to the U.S. to work, they apply through a U.S. embassy consular office and that visa can be revoked if the visa holder becomes ineligible to maintain the nonimmigrant visa, which can occur for a variety of reasons. There are criminal and related grounds for visa ineligibility, among other additional reasons a visa can be revoked. An excerpt from the statute containing grounds for visa revocation identifies criminal and related issues and states, “…any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of (I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime, or (II) a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance…[iii]”
What constitutes a crime of moral turpitude, for purposes of visa ineligibility, is a unique question best answered on a case-by-case basis, and a licensed immigration attorney may be necessary to represent the nonimmigrant. While it may not always be clear what constitutes a crime for moral turpitude, it is clear that multiple criminal convictions can trigger visa revocation and deportation. In addition to what is stated above, the ineligibility statute also states regarding multiple convictions, “Any alien convicted of 2 or more offenses (other than purely political offenses), regardless of whether the conviction was in a single trial or whether the offenses arose from a single scheme of misconduct and regardless of whether the offenses involved moral turpitude, for which the aggregate sentences to confinement were 5 years or more is inadmissible.” In other words, the combination of options that could trigger visa revocation can be complex.
What happens if a nonimmigrant visa is revoked as a result of criminal activity?
If revoked, the visa will be stamped “REVOKED” and if the visa holder is not present at the time of revocation (or the visa is not available) additional authorities may be notified, including airline personnel. Once a visa is revoked the holder will not be permitted to enter the U.S. and can be detained while traveling to the U.S. Once a nonimmigrant visa is revoked ICE may initiate removal proceedings to deport the individual if they otherwise do not voluntary leave the U.S. Note that ICE may use “prosecutorial discretion” in deciding whether to proceed with removal. Click/tap here to read more about prosecutorial discretion.
Removal proceedings can be challenged and a visa reinstatement may also be applied for by the nonimmigrant visa holder and/or their attorney. The complex immigration and criminal law rules are best followed with an experienced licensed immigration attorney who understands the effect of the options available in criminal courts and how they can affect nonimmigrant visa status.
If you or someone you know who holds a nonimmigrant visa is involved in police activity and is charged with an offense, which if convicted could trigger deportation, you can call the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley to learn what options are available to prevent being deported. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.
[ii] Guardian Liberty Voice website: Justin Bieber Drugs, Rehab and Deportation According to ICE Official. By Deborah Baran, Jan 19, 2014.