Many foreign workers are unaware of the immigration consequences of criminal pleading and plea agreements, especially with regard to crimes that many consider “minor” due to the minimal fines and lack of jail time. Unfortunately, not all criminal lawyers are aware of the immigration consequences either. For example, a plea agreement might be offered in response to a charge of possession of a nominal amount marijuana that would allow a U.S. citizen to pay a $200 fine and to walk away. However, the same plea deal can carry serious consequences for foreign workers, including the possibility of removal. Further, a U.S. citizen pleading guilty to a domestic dispute charge, which can be brought in many jurisdictions when a couple is observed engaging in a verbal altercation, may receive a mere 12-hour detention and possibly a nominal fine. A foreign worker, however, may face removal proceedings.

Discussing criminal issues directly with your employees may not be desirable, but new foreign workers should be advised of the fact that serious immigration issues can arise when they or their family members admit to a crime or accept a plea deal, even if the crime doesn’t seem “major.” Foreign workers should always consult immigration counsel if they or one of their family members are charged with any crime, especially before pleading or accepting any kind of plea deal.