Deportation/Removal or Exclusion from the U.S.

Many international students are keenly aware of the fact that there are certain violations of the law that can result in being "deported" / "removed" from the United States or upon leaving the U.S. for a break can lead to being "excluded" or denied entry to complete studies at the University of Illinois. It is very rare that either domestic or international students commit serious criminal offenses while on or off campus.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.)

100% of international students dealt with U.S. Customs in order to enter the United States. I.C.E. is the common acronym for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. This agency deals with the two issues international students are most often concerned about when they come to Student Legal Service about a legal violation. Will I be deported/removed? Will I be excluded from returning?

Formal actions by I.C.E. to deport/remove University of Illinois international students are extremely rare, as most students do not violate the criminal law, and when they do, it is generally for non-deportable/non-removable offenses.

On the other hand, it seems that when a student returns home and seeks re-entry into the U.S., there is greater scrutiny by the U.S. consulate who seem to have quick access to U.S. police and court records, probably through access to a U.S. Homeland security database, which can lead to questioning and potential exclusion from entry to the U.S. to complete your studies at the University of Illinois.

Deportable/Removable Offenses

  • Generally, offenses that carry a potential jail sentence greater than one year
  • Aggravated felony convictions such as drug/firearms trafficking
  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Fraud
  • Various forms of larceny (theft) where the potential sentence is a year or more
  • More than one conviction arising from separate incidents for offenses that have a potential of up to one year in jail. The sentence of jail does not have to be served in order for the matters to create deportability/removability
  • Many violent felonies too numerous to list

Offenses Not Usually Resulting in Deportation/Removal

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug (D.U.I.).
  • Driving under suspended license.
  • Traffic tickets such as speeding, stop signs, lane usage, invalid license, etc.
  • First offense shoplifting (theft) where potential sentence is less than one year in jail.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia where the potential sentence is less than one year in jail.
  • Underage drinking or possession of alcohol as a "city offense" or as a misdemeanor State of Illinois offense.
  • Trespass, disorderly conduct, resisting/obstructing police officer in making an arrest.

Exclusion Offenses

  • Any offense that could cause you to be deported/removed if you were already in the U.S.
  • Offenses involving "moral turpitude" which means, generally, the act is inherently wrong as defined by the statute where elements include things such as fraud, intent to harm persons or things, larceny, etc. Examples: Arson, Burglary, Armed Robbery, Sexual Assault, Domestic Battery, etc.
  • Conviction for an offense does not mean that there must be a formal trial and a finding of guilt.
    • A finding or pronouncement by a judge or jury of guilt is a "conviction" for purpose of exclusion by the U.S. consulate if the offense involves moral turpitude.
    • A negotiated guilty plea is a conviction.
    • A grant of "Court Supervision" where there is an admission of facts sufficient to find guilt is a conviction.
    • Imposition of a penalty is also an element of "conviction".

    Not all convictions result in exclusion!

  • Failure to appear/arrest warrant. One of the common situations that international students deal with during questioning by U.S. Consular officials is "failure to appear" at court resulting in an arrest warrant being issued. If you failed to appear in a U.S. court on a traffic or minor criminal matter the court often issues a warrant for your arrest. This document is shared with various governmental agencies. The consulate may require you to produce a police report or answer questions about the activity that caused the arrest warrant to issue. Student Legal Service may be able to assist you in obtaining these records and may be able to transmit them to you while you are detained or awaiting clearance to enter the U.S.
  • Expungement. Illinois permits many offenses to be Expunged from your record. This is true where there is an "arrest" but no formal charge and most commonly in cases where you were sentenced to "Court Supervision". Generally you must wait two years after completing the terms and conditions of your sentence to bring the Expungement procedure in Illinois. U.S. Homeland Security databases are not affected by Expungement, and the U.S. Secretary of State and/or Consulate are not required to recognize Illinois "Expungement of Conviction" rules for deciding to exclude your return to the U.S.
  • Merely being arrested or detained or under police investigation does not make you automatically unable to enter or re-enter the U.S.