Monthly Archives: December 2009

I have a green card and recently was arrested for shoplifting, will I be deported?

The answer to your question will depend on several things. First, it is important to review the statute under which you were charged. For example,crimes of larceny involve moral turpitude. On the other hand, the Board of Immigration Appeals has held that crimes of theft involve moral turpitude only when a permanent taking is intended. Therefore, it is very important to examine the statute or ordinance under which you were charged to determine the nature of the offense and the elements of the criminal statute.

Second, the general rule is that a lawful permanent resident alien who is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within five years of admission is deportable only if he or she is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed.

If the statute does not prescribe a sentence of one year or longer and you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years, the shoplifting conviction will not jeopardize your green card renewal.

Third, generally (not always) retail theft under a certain amount falls within a petty offense exception. The petty offense exception states that an individual will not be deemed inadmissible for one crime involving moral turpitude if the maximum penalty for the offense does not exceed imprisonment for one year, and if convicted of the crime, the individual was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than six months. Therefore, it is important to review the penalty section of the charging statute or ordinance to determine whether the violation falls within the petty offense exception.

Finally, you should hire an experienced criminal/immigration lawyer to help you out with charges. Avoid pleas to theft or intent based crimes. Request your attorney to ask for substitution of your charges with an entirely different sort of offense if possible.

We routinely represent alien defendants in criminal matters. You can contact our office to discuss your case or ask for our opinion on immigration consequences of your criminal convictions. We often work with criminal attorneys nation-wide advising them during plea negotiations.

This information is general in nature and does not address specifics of your case. The specifics of your case should be discussed with your immigration attorney before any filings are submitted to the USCIS. This information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Evita Tolu – Immigration Attorney
Stientjes & Tolu LLC
9378 Olive Blvd., Ste. 325
St. Louis, MO 63132

314-872-3988 telephone
314-872-9556 fax


Immigration Attorney’s Advice:
I have a friend from overseas who is willing to be a partner or financial backer of a business we’re going to open, but he doesn’t have a green card. Could his participation in our business help him get one?


If your friend has a million dollars, he may be in luck. The law requires most people to invest that much to qualify as immigrant entrepreneurs.

There are, however, some variations on the million dollar theme. The initial investment can be as little as $500,000 if the business is in a depressed locale. On the other hand, the immigration authorities can require the investment to be as much as $3 million if it’s in a ritzy place.

To qualify as an immigrant entrepreneur, your friend would also have to take an active role in the business, and the business would need to employ at least ten full-time workers. (Meeting these standards can be difficult, leading to the denial of many investors’ green card applications.)

There are other, more general immigration requirements to meet as well. For example, green card applicants must have a record scot-free of serious criminal convictions and must make it through various medical and security checks.

If it sounds as if your friend might qualify, consider it a wise business investment to pay an experienced immigration attorney to process the application or to recommend alternate strategies. Legal advice is definitely in order if your friend is currently living in the United States without documents.

Evita Tolu, Immigration Attorney
Stientjes & Tolu LLC – Immigration Law Firm
9378 Olive Blvd., Ste. 325
St. Louis, MO 63132
314-872-3988 telephone
314-872-9556 fax

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