This is a very common question that our attorneys receive here at Antonini & Cohen. When applying for lawful permanent residence (a green card), you must show that you are eligible for admission to the United States.
In applying for the green card, USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, previously INS) will take your fingerprints and forward them to the FBI. The FBI will then send a report to USCIS containing all previous criminal arrests and convictions. Criminal convictions received in the U.S. or abroad can potentially cause a problem in the green card application process.
What crimes can make me inadmissible (and thus possibly ineligible for a green card)?
Generally, with some exceptions, crimes involving illegal drugs will make a person inadmissible. The same is true of “crimes involving moral turpitude” (CIMT). This type of criminal record normally includes crimes involving fraud, a wrongful taking of property, domestic violence or extreme violence. If you are interested in learning more about CIMT’s, you may read more in this US Department of State document.
There are also many crimes listed individually in the Immigration and Nationality Act that constitute grounds of inadmissibility such as:
With my criminal record, can I still get a green card?
Even if you have a criminal record and are inadmissible, don’t lose hope. You may still qualify to be legally excused through either an exception or a waiver. One such exception is for a single CIMT misdemeanor where the sentence to confinement was six months or less. Waivers are provisions of law that, subject to a showing of hardship to a qualifying immediate family member, allow USCIS to grant a green card despite the applicant’s criminal conviction.
What is the likely outcome of my green card application?
This is a very difficult question to answer as every situation is unique. Before you apply for a green card, consult with an attorney knowledgeable of both immigration and criminal law, like the attorneys at Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group. We can help you understand your situation and options for exception or waiver.
Contact the immigration attorneys at Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group. We’ll help you understand your options and prepare for the best outcome possible. Call us at 404.850.9394 or complete this simple contact form.
Please also watch this video regarding immigration consequences of criminal convictions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1zyCjDD-10