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Do Criminal Convictions Affect Eligibility for Visas or Green Cards?

Posted on in Immigration

Plano Waivers of Inadmissibility Lawyer

Immigrants, including those who wish to come to the United States and those who are currently in the country and wish to obtain authorization for permanent residence, will need to be aware of the issues that could affect their ability to receive a visa or Green Card. There are certain factors that may lead to inadmissibility, which may prevent a person from receiving authorization to enter the U.S. or limit their ability to remain in the country. Criminal convictions are a common issue that can affect admissibility, and immigrants who have been convicted in the past will need to understand their options as they address issues related to immigration.

How Does the U.S. Government Determine Eligibility for a Visa or Green Card?

Immigration officials will follow multiple laws, regulations, and procedures when determining whether a person is admissible to the United States. When an immigrant applies for a visa or Green Card, their application is sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where it is reviewed by an immigration officer. The officer will look at many different factors to determine whether the applicant is eligible for a visa or Green Card, including their criminal history.

What Types of Crimes Make Someone Inadmissible?

There are many different offenses that can make someone inadmissible to the United States, but some of the most common include:

  • Moral turpitude offenses - U.S. immigration laws state that convictions for "crimes involving moral turpitude" will result in inadmissibility. However, the laws do not define which offenses fall into this category. In general, these offenses include any crimes that are shocking or concerning to the general public. Violent crimes such as murder and sexual offenses such as sexual assault or sexual abuse will typically qualify. However, other offenses, such as theft or fraud, may also fall into this category if they involved harm to the general public or people in vulnerable positions. In some cases, exceptions may apply, including for certain crimes committed when a person was under the age of 18, as well as offenses with a maximum sentence of one year for which a person was sentenced to no more than six months in prison.

  • Drug offenses - Most offenses related to controlled substances that violate federal or state laws or the laws of a foreign country will make a person inadmissible. Involvement in drug trafficking, including aiding and abetting the illegal transportation or distribution of drugs across state lines or international borders, will also result in inadmissibility. A family member who obtained financial benefits from drug trafficking will generally be inadmissible if the offense took place within the previous five years.

  • Prostitution - An immigrant who comes to the United States for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or receiving financial benefits from prostitution will usually be considered inadmissible. Any offense related to prostitution or "commercialized vice" that took place within 10 years of applying for a visa or Green Card may cause a person to be inadmissible.

  • Multiple convictions - If a person is convicted of two or more offenses that were part of the same course of conduct, and they are sentenced to a total of five years in prison or more, they will usually be inadmissible.

Can Someone with a Criminal Conviction Still Get a Visa or Green Card?

There are a few ways to overcome inadmissibility related to criminal convictions. In some cases, a person may receive a pardon, or they may be able to have a previous conviction expunged from their criminal record. In others, waivers of inadmissibility may be available, and a person may be able to receive a visa or Green Card if they can show that this would be necessary to help prevent hardship for an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Contact Our Plano Waivers of Inadmissibility Lawyer

If you have a criminal conviction on your record, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine how your conviction may affect your ability to obtain a visa or Green Card. Depending on the nature and severity of your conviction, you may still be eligible for immigration benefits. At Law Office of Jae Lee, our Dallas immigration attorney can review your case and advise you of your options. We will work with you to help you complete the immigration process and receive approval for a visa or Green Card. Contact us at 214-295-3014 to set up a free consultation.


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