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  • An Immigration Strategy for Your Non-Citizen Criminal Client
An Immigration Strategy for Your Non-Citizen Criminal Client March 31, 2014

Criminal defense attorneys spend much time covering their backsides and need a immigration strategy for foreign clients. Protecting ourselves from the immigration consequences for our non-citizen clients is important. In a college town, like Bryan-CollegeImmigration Strategy for Criminal Defense Attorneys and Foreign Clients Station, many of our clients are either foreign students or foreign faculty members from Texas A&M University. Whether it’s a student visa issue, evaluating deportation risk, or simply the client who wants to re-enter the U.S. after visiting their home country, accurately advising clients of immigration issues is critical. No defense lawyer aspires to field a client’s angry call from the airport after federal immigration officials have denied them re-entry following their customary trip home during the holidays.


I profess expertise in criminal defense, but I’m no immigration ace . . . nor do I yearn to become one. Keeping up with changes in criminal law and procedure is work enough. However, we’ve developed a very simple strategy for clients who face immigration consequences resulting from their Bryan-College Station criminal charges by getting them in contact with immigration attorneys, usually on conference call, to discuss their questions and our disposition strategies. And I’m surprised how much I learn each time. For a very reasonable hourly fee many immigration lawyers will discuss your client’s case in the privacy of your office. Questions about renewing student or work visas, re-enterying the country with pending criminal charges, or discussing the client’s long-term citizenship plans can be accomplished in a relatively short time. After the consultation we pay the invoice, document our client file, and go forward with confidence the client has been well advised of their special immigration problems. Mission accomplished.


So, no matter how we do it, non-citizen clients need accurate information about how their criminal case may affect their immigration status. Whether we become experts ourselves or defer to a specialist, we need good information to cover our backsides and help our clients. It’s easy to develop a strategy to accomplish both goals.


Stephen Gustitis is a criminal lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.


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2 thoughts on “An Immigration Strategy for Your Non-Citizen Criminal Client

  1. At what stage is the criminal status affecting the immigrant. Ideally, it should be after the immigrant is found guilty by a law court. Ordinary allegation of crime , I think, is not sufficient.

    • Austin: Federal immigration authorities have held my clients at customs upon their return to the US, even though their case was still pending. In each case, the Feds “changed status,” making it easier to deport them later, and then let them leave the airport. It was a consultation with an immigration expert that helped me understand this was happening. That’s why I often consult with an expert if my non-citizen client wants to leave and reenter the US, even before a final disposition of the criminal case.

Stephen Gustitis