Coming to the United States for any reason means going through the background checks and meeting the eligibility requirements to be deemed admissible. Unfortunately, if you have a criminal record of any kind, this process becomes a lot more difficult. However, you are not necessarily barred from entering the US for any reason based on your criminal record.
Criminal Offenses That Make You Inadmissible
Some criminal offenses make you immediately inadmissible to the US, but others don’t. If you have been convicted of multiple crimes, a crime of moral turpitude, trafficking controlled substances, prostitution, human trafficking, and some other convictions can lead to immediate inadmissibility. There are some exceptions that can be applied under certain circumstances. You can see a full list of criminal ineligibilities on the Department of State website here.
It’s worthwhile to note that if you’ve been convicted of crimes that were purely political offenses, you may still be admissible.
It’s unwise to lie on your immigration application about any criminal offenses you’ve committed. The visa and residency application processes include fingerprinting and background checks, both of which can uncover criminal convictions that you did not inform the US government about. This will most likely lead to immediate rejection of your application, and might even make you inadmissible for a certain period of time because of your attempt to deceive the immigration department.
Waivers for Criminal Offenses
If you have not committed any serious offenses, or if the offense you committed was not recent, it’s possible to apply for a waiver that will allow you to continue through the immigration process. Waivers are the equivalent of legal forgiveness for minor crimes. They can’t be used for every type of criminal offense, but they can help you prove yourself to be admissible for visa and immigration purposes in many cases.
As an example, you may be able to get a waiver for a drug possession charge if you were convicted years ago and have had no other legal trouble or convictions since then. Showing evidence of reform since your conviction will make your case for waiver stronger. Waivers can take a long time to process so it’s best to apply as early as you can to avoid delaying your immigration application.
Keep in mind that for immigration purposes, no crime is truly removed from your record. Even if your own local government expunged the records of the crime or sealed it, that criminal offense will still apply to you when you’re seeking immigration to the US.
Applying for Temporary Visas, Green Cards, or Naturalization with a Criminal Record
All applications to come to the US, whether temporarily or not, will require you to be admissible. It doesn’t matter what you’re applying for; you will always be put to the test to see if you fit the standards for being admitted into the country. Because of this, your criminal record can affect any application you want to submit for US immigration.
Just because you have a criminal record doesn’t mean you’re automatically inadmissible. This is a very complex legal topic that may be really difficult for you to navigate on your own. If you have a criminal record of any kind and wish to apply for US immigration, contact our office today for a free consultation. We’ll help you through the whole process to make sure you’re getting a fair chance at approval for your immigration application!