My friend is getting married soon to an American citizen and he was convicted with a small felony of retail theft and after that he has been a good citizen doing some community service and apply to the law, will he has a chance on becoming a legal citizen here and get a green card through marriage? Is there a lawyer can help him and he is willing to pay
I have changed the practice area to immigration to allow the appropriate attorneys to respond.
The responses provided here do not constitute legal advice and are not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult an experienced divorce and family law attorney for additional information.
One of the requirements for naturalization is good moral character (GMC). GMC means character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides. In general, an applicant must show that he has been and continues to be a person of GMC during the statutory period prior to filing and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance. While USCIS determines whether an applicant has met the GMC requirement on a case-by-case basis, certain types of criminal conduct automatically preclude applicants from establishing GMC and may make the applicant subject to removal proceedings. There is a satutotory lookback period and other factors that USCIS officers consider which is beyond the scope of this forum. A felony is a felony, no such things as ‘big’ or ‘small’ felony (as you descibe). What was the arresting charge, what was the ultimate charge, when did the criminal act happen, etc. all plays a role. Schedule a private consult!
This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not meant to be relied upon as legal advice.
It's difficult to say without knowing the exact state statute that he was convicted of and also what the exact sentence was. The elements of each state crime can entail different immigration consequences. Theft offenses are generally considered CIMTs (crimes involving moral turpitude) which is a bar to adjustment of status (green card). There may be a waiver available depending on the facts, as well as any additional criminal history. A felony theft offense could also potentially be an "aggravated felony," which would have very serious consequences. It is important that your friend gather all criminal history documents and meet with an immigration attorney, particularly in light of the recent ICE practice of detaining people at interviews and also USCIS memos regarding when individuals will be placed in removal proceedings. The green card is the first step. I would be more concerned about that and avoiding removal proceedings right now. Citizenship can be addressed later. Good luck!
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