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Warning for immigrants facing criminal charges:

If you are not a United States citizen, criminal charges may impact your immigration status. Criminal charges may cause deportation, denial of entry into the U.S., denial of a green card, and denial of citizenship. This may be true  . . .

      • Even if you have a green card
      • Even if you have been in the United States for many years
      • Even if you are afraid to return to the country where you come from
      • Even if you are only charged with a misdemeanor
      • Even if you only get probation
      • Even if you take a continuance without a finding (“CWOF”), complete probation, and the charge is dismissed. A CWOF is the same as a guilty plea under immigration law.

For these reasons, it is very important that you get correct advice about the immigration consequences before you resolve a criminal case. You have a constitutional right to have your criminal defense attorney explain the immigration consequences to you so that you can make the right choice for yourself and your family. You do not need to hire an immigration attorney for this advice.

If your defense attorney was appointed by the court, that attorney can contact the Immigration Impact Unit for advice. It is best if your attorney fills out our IIU Intake Form.

If you need a lawyer to try to vacate a criminal conviction . . .

If your attorney did not give you advice about how a criminal conviction would impact your immigration status before you pled guilty or went to trial and you now have immigration problems, you can ask the Court to give you a new trial or allow you to take back your guilty plea. If you cannot afford an attorney to help you with this, you may ask the court for a free attorney appointed by the court.

To ask for an appointed attorney, submit a CPCS Post Conviction Screening Request Form to the address listed on the form.

Know Your Rights in an ICE Arrest

Read about your rights during an ICE arrest if you are worried about ICE arresting you at home or in the community. This information is in multiple languages.

Know Your Rights for Immigrants in Criminal Custody

If you or a family member are in criminal custody, read about your rights if you are questioned about your immigration status in a prison or jail.

If you need a free immigration attorney . . .

There is no right to a free lawyer in immigration court. There are few free immigration attorneys in Massachusetts. For some resources, see –

If you would like to apply for U.S. citizenship…

To be eligible for U.S. citizenship you must have had a green card for five years (or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen), and meet several other requirements. Project Citizenship and Rian Immigrant Center offers free information about how to apply for U.S. citizenship and may help you fill out the application.

If you or your family member has already been deported . . .

For information and resources, see the National Immigration Project and American Immigration Council Practice Advisory, “Return to the United States After Prevailing on a Petition for Review or Motion to Reopen or Reconsider” (2012).

Immigration Agencies

If you are looking for more information, try these resources:

Photo Credit: Immigration & Citizenship Assistance