Can You Be Deported If You Are a Permanent Resident?

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • Green card holders, while having the right to be in the United States, can face deportation for certain offenses.
  • Crimes leading to deportation include aggravated felonies, drug-related offenses, crimes of moral turpitude, firearm crimes, fraud, and smuggling.
  • Failing to meet residency conditions or engaging in marriage fraud can also result in deportation.
  • It is crucial for green card holders to abide by the law and avoid these actions to maintain their status in the United States.

Permanent residents are living in the United States and as such, some may expect to never be deported, even if they end up doing something bad. But is that true, though? Can you be deported if you are a permanent resident, or not? In this article, you will find out the answer and know what to avoid if you want to become a naturalized citizen.

Can Green Card Holders Get Deported?

As someone who owns a green card, you have every right to be in the United States. But just because you have the right to, it doesn’t mean you will not be held accountable if you make mistakes and go against rules and the law. Whereas permanent residence is permanent overall, the possibility to get deported exists.

There are permanent residents getting deported every year. They get deported in thousands, which is 10% of all people who got deported. What’s interesting is that, although they did something wrong, many of them are actually deported for small crimes, nothing violent that ended up physically harming someone.

Which Crimes Can Get Permanent Residents Deported?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a list of crimes known as “deportable offenses”. These refer to certain crimes that could get you deported even if you are a permanent resident. You’re better off avoiding any of these if you want to have a nice life in the U.S. What’s worse about some of these crimes is that not only can they get you deported, but you may also not be allowed to enter the United States again. If you want to avoid them and live the American Dream, here are the things that could end up with your deportation:

Aggravated Felony

Aggravated felonies are, most of the time, coming from federal law. However, there are cases when the felony applies to crimes that are done under state law. Depending on what you do, the U.S. immigration authorities are the ones with the right to decide whether you should get deported or not. More than that, it is up to them to decide if you will be inadmissible to the United States afterward.

Aggravated felonies include a big number of crimes. Here are the ones that are considered an aggravated felony:

  • Trafficking drugs
  • Laundering cash of more than $10,000
  • Firearm or destructive devices trafficking
  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Racketeering
  • Treason, spying or sabotage
  • Tax evasion or fraud with over $10,000
  • Sexually abusing an underage person
  • Kidnapping
  • Perjury with at least one year of sentence
  • Violent crime or theft with at least one year of sentence
  • Multiple offenses that include explosive materials or firearms
  • Child pornography
  • Commercial forgery, bribery counterfeiting or trafficking in vehicles
  • Alien smuggling
  • Failing to show up in court when on a felony charge for which a two-year prison sentence may be imposed
  • Obstruction of perjury, justice or bribery of a witness, as long as the imprisonment term was one year at least

Controlled Substances

If you’re dealing with drugs and doing illegal things surrounding drugs, you can get deported. Of course, this is about something more serious, not someone who possessed or used less than 30 grams of marijuana. If you made drug convictions after being admitted to the United States, you can easily get deported when caught.

If you are also someone who is abusing drugs or you’re an addict, deportation can happen in your case.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

There’s a category of crimes known as crimes of moral turpitude, or CMT. Although you can get deported under this category too, it is often unclear what types of crimes are included in it. Overall, felonies and misdemeanors can fall under this category. The courts of the United States have the right to determine if what you did falls under this crime category.

Here are some of the crimes that were declared a CMT:

  • Rape
  • Abusing your child
  • Abusing your spouse
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Sometimes, involuntary manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Incest
  • Kidnapping
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Animal fighting
  • Mayhem
  • Attempt, conspiracy or acting as an ally to a crime that involves moral turpitude

You should, however, keep in mind that doing any of these crimes will not only give you deportation. You will be unable to come back to the U.S. Basically, by performing any of these, you don’t have the proper requirement to get citizenship, so you will be unable to re-enter the country. But if, for any reason, you think that what you’ve done is not a CMT, make sure to speak to an attorney immediately.

Failure to Meet Conditions

If you don’t manage to meet the residence conditions, then you will get deported. This applies if you are a conditional permanent resident, such as a child or spouse of a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. It also includes investor entrepreneurs and the family who receive temporary, 2-year green cards.

Also, if your green card was gained through marriage and you end up divorcing in the meantime, you may be deported. The same goes if the marriage has been determined to be a fraud. Conversely, if it was entrepreneurship or investment that helped you obtain a green card, you need to meet the terms of the investments within a certain period. Failure to do so will get you deported.

Firearm Crimes

Firearm crimes are possible too. Doing something illegal that involves firearms could easily get you deported. For example, if you start selling guns, possessing them, or carrying them illegally, it will be considered a deportable offense. Make sure you don’t get involved in something like this.


Marrying someone should be done out of love. If you do it just to be able to immigrate to the United States, it will be considered marriage fraud and thus a deportable offense. For example, if you married someone less than two years before you obtained your U.S. green card and then you divorced afterward, this may be considered fraud. If you don’t want to be deported, you have to prove that it’s not a fraud.

Inadmissible at the Border

Being inadmissible at the border means that you re-entered the U.S. and upon inspection, the border agent decided you are inadmissible. This might have happened if you’ve been outside the States for over 180 days without permission (advance parole).


Smuggling happens when someone helps another person enter the U.S. illegally. If you do this, you are going to be deported.

Read More


Can you be deported if you are a permanent resident? It can indeed happen, especially if you get yourself involved in crimes. Depending on the nature of the crime and how serious it is, you may end up being unable to ever return on U.S. soil, which is why you should be aware of everything so you could avoid ruining your chances to live in the country. Hopefully, now that you read this article, you are aware of the things that could end up in your deportation and will do your best to not get involved in anything of the sort. You need to become an exemplary citizen, after all.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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