There are only two types of family-based immigration visas: immediate relatives and family preference. Whereas U.S. citizens can petition for their spouse, child, parent, or sibling, green card holders (lawful permanent residents) can only file for their spouse or unmarried children.
Before people pursue their green card, they may question whether past criminal charges and convictions can impact their application.
Criminal Background Check
If you apply for a green card, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct a background investigation on you. There is no getting around that fact. It is essential to understand that a criminal conviction does not automatically prevent you from obtaining a green card.
There is a list of crimes, all chosen by members of the U.S. Congress, that will make you inadmissible to the United States. And should you find yourself in this situation, you may still be able to apply for a waiver.
Am I Inadmissible?
People have another common question: whether a charge or conviction in their country of origin needs to be stated on their application. You will have to list out everything except for traffic violations.
Previously, we mentioned that certain crimes make you inadmissible. There are as follows:
- Illegal drug involvement
- Aggravated felonies
- Crimes that exhibit moral turpitude
There is an extensive list of examples of crimes that fit into each category. An immigration attorney would be in the best position to determine whether a past conviction makes you inadmissible. One of the reasons this leads to confusion is that some crimes that are considered “aggravated felonies” for immigration purposes are, in fact, misdemeanors.
In another scenario, it may be possible that someone with a criminal conviction seeks to sponsor someone who has a clean record. Illegal activities involving minors prevent you from sponsoring someone.
If you have been deemed “inadmissible” because of previous criminal activity, you may still be eligible to request a waiver. Many of the crimes above cannot be waived. Moral turpitude usually refers to actions rooted in “evil intent” and present severe challenges to your immigration process.
However, some drug convictions (depending on the amount you had in your possession) may be waived if you were not selling or involved in trafficking. An immigration attorney can explain whether your specific charges prohibit you from pursuing family-based immigration.
At ZafiroLaw, we focus on assisting our clients through the challenges they face during family-based immigration. If you have further questions about the process (whether it pertains to you or someone you wish to sponsor), please contact ZafiroLaw to schedule your consultation. Obtaining a green card can be a long road, but it is one that we want to travel with you on.