HERE’S HOW CRIMINAL RECORDS CAN AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO GET A VISA OR GREEN CARD
If you are someone you love is in the process of applying for a VISA or Permanent Resident Card (Green) in the US, there are number of legal hoops that must be jumped through in order prove eligibility for entry into the country.
INADMISSIBLEFailure to pass these checks will result in a return of "inadmissible" from US immigration Services. Meaning that you or your loved one cannot apply for a green card of visa. In the event you or someone you love has been ruled "inadmissible" by the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 212(a), this is typically done so because of various crimes, diseases, past immigration violations, or if the candidate is deemed likely to need government financial assistance. The most significant cause for being ruled as such is crime. Immigrants with a criminal record back home truly have a difficult time immigrating into the US. Does this mean everyone who's ever been convicted of a crime is "inadmissible?" In no way is this true. In fact, a large part of this post will cover the types of crimes that make one inadmissible. However, that doesn't mean such a criminal record won't cause other legal issues once you are in the US. If the VISA or Green Card holder commits the type of crime in the US that would make them inadmissible, they may be ruled that as a result and thus be deported. Before going over the list of crimes that can disqualify you, let's talk for a moment about how Immigration Services actually discovers immigrants' foreign criminal records.
How US Immigration Services Discovers Immigrants' Criminal RecordsWhen applying for a Green Card or VISA, US Immigration Services will ask you if you've ever been convicted of a crime. It's not a good idea to lie here because what happens next is they fingerprint you and check with the criminal records of your native country. If discrepancies are found - all chances at immigration into the US are virtually gone. This puts those with a criminal record in a worrisome position. The best way to handle this if you or someone you love is an immigrant who has a criminal record, don't start by going to US Immigration services. Start by hiring an experienced Immigration Attorney who, like myself, knows the law and the immigration process. One who can both help you determine if you are eligible for normal entry, if you qualify for a waiver of any such admissibility, and could also aid in the filing of Immigration Forms and/or Waivers to ensure you have your best shot at securing entry into the US.
Crimes on the Statutory ListBefore I go, I want to leave you with the list of crimes on the INA's Inadmissibility list. Even if you or your loved one was only accused of one of these crimes and not actually convicted, your admissibility into the US may still be in jeopardy. So if you or anyone you love is seeking a VISA or Green Card and has been accused or convicted of any of the following, talk to an immigration attorney before beginning your process. They'll help you review your options so that you make the best decision on how to proceed with immigration. o Any convictions where the crime involves "moral turpitude." Typically, this is defined as any type of criminal conspiracy or the attempt at one. Some exceptions exist, like if you were under 18 and it was 5 years before your immigration application. Other exception exist depending on the length of the sentence, and time served. Speak to an attorney if you have been convicted or accused of committing any crimes of moral turpitude. o Any convictions involving controlled substances. This includes attempts and conspiracies to commit crime. o Multiple convictions of 5+ years (unless for political reasons). These multiple convictions can come during the course of a single trial, or from multiple occasions. o If you or a member of your immediate family has been convicted of trafficking controlled substance, or if the US government suspects you may have been involved - you really need to speak to an attorney before pursuing immigration. The issue here is if the immediate family members receive any benefits from funds secured through drug trafficking, this may affect their admissibility. To give your VISA or Green Card application its best chance at approval, talk with an immigration attorney before filing. o Any convictions or history with commercialized vices like prostitution (this includes both engaging in prostitution and trying to procure or import prostitutes) within the past 10 years and also includes any convictions while in the US, so this could result in deportation even after you've been given your Green Card or VISA. o In any serious offense where you were deported from the US to face legal proceedings in another state, re-entry to the US will be denied until demonstrated submission to such foreign jurisdiction and the relevant US court that required such deportation in the first place. o Any offenses involving the severe violation of religious freedoms by a foreign government official. o Any crimes related to human trafficking or the conspiracy to commit it - in or outside of the US. This includes knowingly aiding, abetting, assisting, conspiring, or colluding with any such traffickers. This inadmissibility may also be shared by the spouse and children of anyone convicted as such. There are several different factors that affect this, so if you are the family of anyone convicted of human trafficking, you'll 100% need an attorney to help you proceed correctly. o Any aggravated felonies that resulted in removal from the US carry with them a 20 year inadmissibility for reentry into the US. o Anyone that is found to have sought or currently is seeking entry into the US as part of a money laundering scheme. This includes knowingly, aiding, abetting, assisting, conspiring, or colluding with any such money launderers. o INA Statues also list quite a few security violations like terrorism, sabotage, Nazi persecution, espionage, totalitarian regimes, etc. If you fear you may be suspected of any such security threat, consulting an immigration attorney before applying is your best bet.
Still Have Questions About Immigration?Simply put, if you or a close member of your family has been convicted of any of the crimes on this list, you should consult an experienced and reliable attorney who has made it his business to help people seeking opportunities in the US. If you are facing possible inadmissibility on your Green Card or Visa application, look no further than the Law Offices of Yoel Molina. Yoel has years of experience assisting people just like you with their American Dream. Give our office a call and we'd be happy to discuss your legal needs and concerns.