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What is a crime involving moral turpitude?

The Immigration and Nationality Act, which declares anyone who’s been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude ineligible for admission to the US, doesn't actually list which specific offences involve moral turpitude.

Fun, right?

West's Encyclopedia of American Law defines moral turpitude as "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals." Other definitions include "conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile or depraved" and acts of "baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which man owes to his fellowmen." As you can see, moral turpitude defies a tidy definition.

In 2008, a California court case added the term "reprehensible act" to the various definitions being thrown around, but what does and what does not constitute a crime involving moral turpitude remains convoluted. Even US border officials themselves will sometimes request your court information to help them make a determination – it can be that complicated.

So if you're still in the dark, here's an incomplete list of convictions that will almost certainly be deemed to involve moral turpitude and make you ineligible for entry to the US without a waiver:

  • Arson
  • Break and Enter
  • Counterfeiting
  • Drug Offences
  • False Pretences
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Indecent Acts
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime
  • Prostitution
  • Robbery
  • Sexual Offences
  • Tax Evasion
  • Theft

We can't stress enough that there are other crimes that could be deemed to involve moral turpitude and therefore make you ineligible for entry without a US entry waiver.

If you're in doubt, please contact us and we'll help you make sense of what can be a confusing process.


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We help Canadians reclaim their freedom. For more information and to start your application, please call us at 1.800.345.8880 or submit the form below.