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  • Ericka Cruz

Can 21 Savage stay in the United States?

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

"I don't feel like you should be arrested and put in a place where a murderer would be, for just being in the country too long." -21 Savage

Why did 21 Savage get detained by ICE?

21 Savage, aka She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on February 3rd, 2019 for over staying his visa. Savage entered on an H-4 visa through his mother, which is the visa for family members of those entering on an H-2 visa, an employment based visa for service industries. Although known for his strong Atlanta, Georgia, roots, Savage is actually a citizen of the United Kingdom. Savage arrived in the United States at age 7 and claims that he left briefly and returned on a visa that expired a year later in 2006. He has been continuously present in the United States for approximately 13 years.

After nine days in detention, ICE released Savage on a $100,000 bond. ICE was originally pursuing Savage on an aggravated felony charge and his visa overstay, but the agency has since dropped the aggravated felony charge and will only pursue the immigration case on the visa overstay. Savage is currently in removal proceedings.

What about 21 Savage’s criminal Convictions? Aggravated Felony?

An aggravated felony is “a term of art used in the world of immigration law to describe a category of offenses carrying particularly harsh immigration consequences for noncitizens convicted of such crimes.” Aggravated felonies do not even need to be defined as felonies under state law. Crimes that fall under aggravated felonies can be state misdemeanors and other low-level crimes. These crimes are most often substance related. Anyone convicted of an aggravated felony is prohibited from receiving most forms of immigration relief.

Savage pleaded guilty to drug possession charges in 2014. His attorneys claim that this was expunged after Savage served probation for twelve months. However, expungement does not function in the same manner for immigration proceedings as it would for traditional criminal proceedings. For the most part, expunged convictions still count as convictions for immigration purposes.

What is a U Visa?

On his 21st birthday, in 2013, Savage was shot six times in a shooting that resulted in the death of his best friend. Four years after the shooting, Savage filed for a U Visa for being the victim of gun violence. His visa petition is still currently pending. The U visa is available for “victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity,” the victim must be willing to assist law enforcement officials with the investigation or prosecution of the crime. There is technically no time limit or statute of limitations on when a victim of a crime can file the police report and get started in filing for a U visa. However, timing can be vital to catching the perpetrator of the crime, and so the sooner the police is filed, the more helpful that the victim can be to law enforcement officials, and this in turn helps to bolster their case when being adjudicated by USCIS.

In order to file for the visa, the petitioner- the individual applying for the visa- must also submit a signed police report that claims that the victim is willing to work with officials and has reported the case. There is a backlog on the assessment of U visa petitions and several varying factors that affect the length of time that a case can be pending review. There is also a cap on the U visa, with only 100,00 granted annually. U visas are not guaranteed simply because one was the victim of the crime and filed a police report. This visa requires a good deal of evidence and involve a lengthy process that culminates with the adjudication of a USCIS official.

Can 21 Savage be deported?

Since the day his visa expired, Savage has been accruing unlawful presence in the United States. This means that he has been residing in the United States without any legal status. Anyone who accrues unlawful presence for more than 180 days, but less than one year, is barred from reentering the United States for three years. Anyone who accrues unlawful presence for more than one year is barred for ten years. There are certain hardship waivers available, but the granting of any type of waiver is at the discretion of the Immigration Judge. There are several factors that get weighed to determine hardship and all are weighed cumulatively. As it stands, 21 Savage would be barred from reentry for ten years if he were to be deported from the United States and found to be ineligible for a waiver.


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