Can I get a green card even if I have a criminal record?
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: