Illegal immigrants can be deported from the United States, but even someone with a green card can be as well. When you have a green card, you are a lawful permanent resident. The United States law has a lot of grounds upon which immigrants or non-citizens can be deported or removed back to their country of origin. 

Even though people who have a nonimmigrant visa or green card have the right to work and live in the U.S. long-term, the rights are completely dependent on following certain rules and avoiding various types of legal violations. 

Only an immigrant who can successfully become a U.S. citizen is protected from grounds of deportability. U.S. citizens can’t be removed from the country unless they use fraud to get their citizenship or green card. 

The following is an overview of some of the most common reasons for deportation from the United States. 

Criminal Violations

One of the most common reasons for deportation is when someone is convicted of a crime. Not all crimes are grounds for deportation in the U.S., but violent crimes, firearm offenses, human trafficking, and drugs can be grounds to be deported. The same is true of a conviction for smuggling illegal aliens into the country. 

Family or domestic violence, fraud, failure to register as a sex offender, and money laundering can lead to deportation. Almost any kind of aggravated felony can be a reason for deportation. 

There’s a term often used which is crimes of moral turpitude, that can lead to removal from the country by the government. The term refers to crimes or conduct that goes against standards of good moral values, honesty, and justice. 

If someone is convicted of a crime, the court will usually label it in one of two ways—a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony. Depending on where you live, it could also be called a misdemeanor. 

Removal can occur if someone conspires to commit a crime or fraudulent act while in the country. 

If someone is convicted of crimes related to terrorist activity, attempts to overthrow the government, or a crime that endangers public safety in the U.S., these are likely reasons for deportation. 

Someone who’s not a U.S. citizen and has been imprisoned in the United States is at high risk of being deported. These people may be detained directly after they’re released from jail, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can put a hold on their release until there are immigration proceedings. 

Immigration Violations

The second general reason people are deported from the United States is violations related to immigration itself. If someone violates immigration law, they may be found to be deportable. You have to follow certain conditions when you’re in the country on a visa as a non-immigrant. If you don’t follow the conditions, it can lead to your deportation. 

One example is that people in the U.S. on tourist visas aren’t allowed to work. 

Certain groups of non-immigrants need an employment authorization document to work, and if you don’t submit it, you don’t meet the conditions anymore, making you deportable. 

Minor violations such as a failure to let U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) know about a change in address is a crime. Immigrants have to give notification to the USCIS when they have an address change. The deadline is only ten days from the time of the person’s move. An immigrant who gets public assistance within five years of the date of entry into the country is also breaking immigration laws. To get a green card, you have to prove you won’t rely on public assistance. 

There are a number of other situations that could resort in deportation, including overstaying a visa, violating your visa in any way, or having been inadmissible when you came to the U.S. You can be deported if you falsely claim you’re a U.S. citizen. 

If you received conditional permanent resident status in the past, you could lose your status. If there’s the termination of your permanent resident status, you may be deportable. 


Fraudulent activities leading to deportation can include making untrue statements on official documents. 

Marriage fraud is relatively common and occurs when an immigrant marries a U.S. citizen as a way to get legal permanent residence or perhaps a green card. The scenario is a sham marriage when the people never planned to have a life together. 

If the marriage is real, submitting false documents saying assets are more than they really are can also cause you to be deported. 

If you marry a U.S. citizen and meet all requirements, you may be able to get a green card. If the marriage is terminated within two years, the green card holder may be deportable. You might have to prove that the marriage wasn’t a fraud if it was ended or annulled within the following two years of getting a green card. 

If you provide false information on any kind of legal document, including a visa or immigration permit, green card application, or entry document, you can be deported as an immigrant. 

Drug Use

If any time after your admission to the U.S. you were a drug user or addict, you can be deported. There isn’t a court conviction needed for deportation. Your confession to using drugs or evidence from a medical report can be enough. 


Voting in violation of a state, federal or local law makes someone deportable. There are exceptions for people who reasonably believed they were U.S. citizens. 

Even if authorities think someone is deportable, they’re not usually kicked out of the country. Typically, you would have the right to defend your case in front of an immigration judge in court. The law may apply a waiver for some types of deportability that you can apply. A waiver is a legal forgiveness. 

For anyone worried about the potential of deportation, it’s best to talk to an immigration attorney because these situations can be complex, and the stakes are high.