Can A Green Card Holder Be Deported For Domestic Violence?

Remember how ecstatic you were when you won the Green Card? You packed up your family and left your country to go into the Land of the Free and the Brave, full of hope for the future. Adjusting to a new country means you have to deal with culture shock and learn about the U.S laws and your rights as an immigrant.

Adapting to a whole new way of life is not easy, and finding your way around a new country can be pretty frustrating, taking a toll on you and your family. The stress may put your marriage to the test, and you may end up fighting all the time. 

As a green cardholder, your other name is Lawful permanent resident (LPR). However, you need not get too comfortable; – that permanent stay can change instantly, especially if you commit a crime and the government convicts you in a court of law.

Some minor crimes may not cause you any problems with your immigration status. The government compares all criminal convictions against the federal deportability grounds to see if they match the listed types of crimes.

If your offense matches the deportability kind of crime, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) places you into removal proceedings. An Immigration Judge may order you deported back to your country.

Is Domestic Violence on the Federal Grounds of Deportability?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (Section 237) states that any non-U. S citizen convicted of domestic violence, child abuse, abandonment or abuse, and stalking after September 30, 1996, faces the risk of deportation.

The government does not care how long you have held a green card. Committing a domestic violence crime after admission to the U.S is grounds for your deportation.

The interpretation of domestic violence under section 237 covers violent crimes committed by your former or current spouse, a live-in partner, co-parent of your child or children, ex-spouse, or anyone who acts against a person with legal federal or local family violence or domestic law protection.

Deportability Due to Domestic Violence as a Crime of Moral Turpitude

Crimes of moral turpitude are a gray area for immigration. The Immigration and Nationality Act( I.N.A.) has no clear definition of what a crime of turpitude entails. Courts have therefore coined their description of the crime.

Moral turpitude is the lack of regard for our duty to society, antisocial behavior against societal morals, or harm to other people.

For deportation, you need a conviction for a domestic violence offense. I.N.A. regards domestic violence as more than a domestic battery, restraining order violation, or child abuse. Not all crimes get individual attention under the U.S immigration laws. Numerous crimes fall into the Crime of Moral Turpitude (C.M.T.)  category. As an immigrant, the government can decide to deport you if convicted of:

  • A CMT you commit within five years of landing on U.S soil (ten years in some cases) carries a possible sentence of 12 months or more.
  • Two or more separate crimes on different occasions, regardless of whether you served your sentence or whether a court convicted you in one court trial.

Domestic violence falls under a C.M.T., so if you are a serial domestic violence offender, the government will deport you immediately.

Domestic Violence Conviction as an Aggravated Felony

Section 237 also states that if you had a previous conviction of an aggravated felony at any time after admission to the U.S., the government could deport you. Some domestic violence crimes fall into aggravated felonies which deserve at least 12 months in prison.

If found guilty of an aggravated felony offense as a green card holder, you face severe consequences. You risk deportation and a permanent ban from returning to the U.S. Sometimes you may qualify for expedited deportation.

 You have no right to the standard removal procedure in such a case. Your deportation may happen in as little as a week or two. With an aggravated felony conviction, you can never come back to the United States.

How Does Immigration Find Out About Domestic Violence Offenders?

In a country with millions of immigrants, you might wrongly assume the immigration authorities will never know of your offense. The F.B.I. routinely receives fingerprints of all the arrested offenders and those booked into custody for criminal background checks.

The F.B.I. sends this information to be sent to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. If I.C.E decides to deport you as a matter of priority, you may serve your stint in jail and face deportation immediately after release.


The U.S takes domestic violence very seriously, and as a green card holder, you must be very cautious and find out what constitutes domestic violence. Ignorance is no defense, and you cannot cite ignorance as an excuse. If the court clears you of an aggravated felony, you can appeal for deportation relief.

If I.C.E. initiates removal proceedings to deport you, you should seek the services of an immigration attorney as soon as possible. A standard removal proceeding may take between one and three years. You will need to get an experienced attorney to improve your chances of deportation relief.


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