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The Deportation of Justin Bieber: A Real Possibility?

The Deportation of Justin Bieber: A Real Possibility?

You’ve probably heard or read the news—a petition for the deportation of Canadian-born pop-star Justin Bieber has made its way to the White House. But the real question is, regardless of how many signatures the petition has gathered, can U.S. officials actually deport Justin Bieber from the United States?  Probably not, unless Bieber picks up new charges. Let me explain.

According to Time magazine, Bieber is in the United States on an O-1 Visa, not a green card. Specifically, he is likely in the United States on an O-1 “A” visa, which is for people who have demonstrated “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.” 8 C.F.R. §214.2(o)(1)(ii)(A)(1).  This type of visa is a non-immigrant worker visa, meaning, it is not meant for permanent residence within the United States, but used to come to the United States temporarily for work in one of those specified fields.

But just because Bieber has been awarded a visa for “extraordinary ability” in the arts, it doesn’t mean it can’t be revoked.  Under U.S. law, in order for Bieber to keep his visa to work in the United States, he, or anyone else on an O-1 visa, cannot be convicted of a “crime of violence” or a crime “for which a sentence of more than one year imprisonment may be imposed.” 8 C.F.R. §214.2(g).

According to CNN entertainment, Bieber turned himself into Canadian officials on January 29 for assault charges in Toronto. But this case won’t likely affect his visa status because he must be convicted under “laws of United States jurisdictions” for his U.S. visa to be revoked. 8 C.F.R. §214.2(g).  But then there is his recent arrest in Miami, Florida, for which according to CNN, he has been charged with DUI, resisting arrest, and driving with an expired license. A quick perusal of the Florida statutes show that none of these charges carry a maximum sentence of more than one year, or constitute a crime of violence under federal immigration law.  Thus, even if he is convicted of all of those charges in Florida, those crimes alone are not enough for Bieber’s visa to get revoked.

But then there is the “egging” incident. According to the Daily News, Bieber is suspected of throwing eggs at his neighbor’s mansion-sized house in Calabasas, California, on January 9, causing an estimated $20,000 dollars in damage. The case is currently under investigation, but if California prosecutors decide to pursue the matter, Bieber could face charges for felony vandalism due to his criminal history, and the amount of damage.  And felony vandalism could carry a jail sentence of 16 months or more—enough jail time under U.S. law to cause an O-1 visa to be revoked.

No charges in the egging case appear to have been filed yet. But if Bieber is charged with and convicted of felony vandalism in California, his visa could be revoked, and he will need to purchase a one-way ticket back to Canada, or face removal from the United States.

This information was provided by Isabel O’Donnell, Esq., an Associate Attorney at Scales of Justice, LLP, and is for informational purposes only, and not to be construed as legal advice.

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