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How Does a Criminal Record Impact My Chances of Immigration to the U.S.?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2022 | Immigration Law

A criminal record may impact your ability to immigrate to the United States or obtain your lawful permanent resident status, depending on the crime and its severity. To immigrate or obtain your residency you must be “admissible” under the immigration law. In general, a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction, even if it was in another country, may result in you being ruled inadmissible (not admissible) to the United States. For example, crimes of violence like assault or murder are generally considered the most serious offenses and will almost always result in a person being ruled inadmissible. Other crimes are considered less serious but still likely to result in a finding of inadmissibility such as controlled substance violations, felonies related to fraud or dishonesty, theft or money laundering, and many more.

For those who are ruled inadmissible, there is still hope. Under immigration law certain crimes can be waived by applying for a Waiver of Inadmissibility which allows you to overcome the inadmissibility of certain criminal convictions. The 212(h) waiver is one of many different waivers of inadmissibility that would allow a person with a prior criminal conviction to enter the United States lawfully or obtain residency if you meet certain requirements. Depending on how long ago your criminal conviction occurred, the requirements for a 212(h) waiver change. For example, if at least 15 years have passed since the time of the criminal conviction and the day you apply to immigrate to the U.S. or apply for residency, you do not need to show that your U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relatives will experience extreme hardship if you were denied the application to immigrate or for residency.However, if your criminal conviction occurred less than 15 years from the day you apply then you must show extreme hardship on your qualifying relatives.

By far the most difficult aspect of receiving a waiver of inadmissibility is demonstrating that a relative in the U.S. would suffer “extreme hardship” if you were barred from entering the country or receiving your residency. This can be done with substantial evidence proving their need for you to immigrate or receive residency.

Having an attorney experienced in navigating the immigration process will be crucial to your success in this process. As such, we always recommend working closely with an immigration attorney throughout the process to ensure that everything is done correctly and to increase your chances of being admissible. Contact Rotella & Hernandez today at 305-596-3618 for more information, and quality assistance with your immigration process.