MISUSE OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER CONSIDERED A “CRIME INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE,” EIGHTH CIRCUIT RULES
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently joined two other circuits in ruling that a conviction for misuse of a Social Security number is a “crime involving moral turpitude,” and has the effect of precluding foreign nationals from becoming lawful permanent residents. In a unanimous decision, the Eighth Circuit (covering Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) rejected an appeal to cancel the deportation of a Salvadoran man who was found guilty of misusing a Social Security number, labeling his act a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT). A CIMT, unlike most misdemeanors and some felonies, makes a foreign national inadmissible (ineligible to enter the United States) as well as deportable (removable from the United States if already here).
In categorizing the misuse of a Social Security number as a CIMT, the Eighth Circuit adopts the approach long held by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the administrative appellate court that hears appeals from decisions of the immigration courts. The Sixth and Ninth Circuits have also previously adopted this interpretation; however, not all courts of appeals have. Thus, not all foreign nationals who appeal their cases will be governed by this interpretation.
Clearly, misuse of Social Security numbers can have drastic consequences. Foreign nationals who may be subject to application of this category are encouraged to contact immigration counsel to discuss the possible ramifications on their case.