Can you lose residency if a crime is committed?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column, I answer a reader's question about the consequences of being found guilty of a felony.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

I have been a permanent resident of the United States since 1994 and had a felony offense in 2011. I was convicted of fraud and placed on probation for 2 years. I only served one year for good behavior. I recently traveled outside the U.S. and upon my return, customs officials took my green card. I was told that I am now on temporary status for one year and that I have to go see an immigration judge. I am a mother of two U.S. citizen children. I work and support my children on my own and I have no other record. I would like to know if I am deportable and if I can be arrested the day that I have to see an immigration judge. --Xiomara M.

Xiomara, I am concerned that you have been found guilty of a felony. In addition to the criminal consequences, you have to worry about the immigration consequences of your case.

Under certain circumstances, if you are found guilty of a felony, you could be deported. In addition, the authorities may detain you during the deportation process. You should see an immigration attorney as soon as possible to review your criminal history so that the attorney can determine your immigration options.

When you visit the attorney, you should bring all documents related to your criminal case, including a criminal court document that summarizes what happened in your case with the appropriate court stamps. In addition, you should bring any immigration documents you have related to your past immigration proceedings.

Even though the customs officials took away your green card, you are still a permanent resident, because only an immigration judge can take away your U.S. permanent resident status. The judge will determine what will happen to your case and whether you can remain a permanent U.S. resident.

Everyone should abide by U.S. laws and stay out of trouble. In particular, non-U.S. citizens should be on their best behavior because certain crimes may subject them to deportation or complicate their immigration proceedings in the future.

Any immigrant who is in criminal proceedings should consult with an immigration attorney before making any decisions about his or her case. Also, no immigrant who is or has been in criminal proceedings should leave the country or apply for any immigration benefit without first consulting with an immigration attorney.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).