Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs)

Individuals who want to obtain or keep a U.S. green card (lawful permanent resident status) but who has had run-ins with the law, should be well aware of the definition of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude or CIMT. Convictions of crimes involving this description can block or restrict one's access to a green card or U.S. visa. It can also cause someone who already has a U.S. visa or green card to be removed from the U.S. as well.

What is considered a CIMT under immigration law?

It is also important to point out that one one is ever charged with something called a "crime of moral turpitude", this is merely a description meant to be applied to any type of crime when appropriate.

A Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) has as an element of fraud or other dishonest intent, which is why it is said to involve moral turpitude. In plain terms, any crime that would make a person consider whether or not you are a person of good moral character. The crime of common theft is an example, because there is a dishonest intent to permanently deprive a rightful owner of his or her property. Some crimes are considered CIMTs because they violate clearly established social norms, for example, child molestation or assault with a deadly weapon. Even a minor offense with no jail time imposed can be a CIMT.

Immigration Court

Who determines if the crime involves moral turpitude?

In making a determination that a crime involves moral turpitude, the immigration official may look at not only the language of the law under which the individual was convicted and the actual record of facts surrounding the person's conviction.

Although each charge is reviewed on a case by case basis, among many specific offences that the U.S. government and courts have determined to be CIMTs, in individual cases are:

  • murder
  • voluntary manslaughter
  • involuntary manslaughter, in some cases
  • rape
  • spousal abuse
  • child abuse
  • incest
  • kidnapping
  • robbery
  • aggravated assault
  • mayhem
  • animal fighting
  • theft
  • fraud
  • conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to a crime if that crime involved moral turpitude


JCS Office


It is very important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer if you are concerned as to whether you have committed a crime involving moral turpitude. This can severely impact your immigration dreams. Contact our Los Angeles immigration attorney now for a free consultation and get help right away.

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