Few criminal issues hold zero risk of affecting your immigration case. However, a criminal history does not necessarily render you inadmissible, or in other words, ineligible for visas and/or a green card to the US. Certain criminal offenses pose much less risk to your case than others.
A basic traffic violation might not hurt your immigration case, but it depends on the nature of the violation. Some traffic violations must be disclosed on immigration applications, others do not. It is important to get copies of all documents relating to a ticket and/or traffic court appearance so that your attorney can determine whether the traffic violation is civil or criminal, and either way, whether and how it needs to be disclosed on your immigration applications.
Laws relating to driving while intoxicated or under the influence may or may not be statutorily problematic from an immigration perspective. However, all DUIs are seriously and heavily weighed in USCIS’s discretionary decision to approve or deny your case. If you have any DUI arrest, even if later dismissed or acquitted, you must discuss this issue with an immigration attorney and prepare a strategy for explaining the situation to USCIS.
Certain juvenile offenses
Mist juvenile records will not hurt your immigration case. However, you need to discuss all juvenile court issues with your immigration attorney because USCIS can take juvenile records into its discretionary decision about your case.
Also, if you have records from when you were under 18 that were in a criminal court, those are not juvenile records. Those are criminal records. Some criminal records from when you were under 18 may be “forgiven” by USCIS if 5 years have passed since the incident.
If you are convicted of or admit to a crime of moral turpitude, you are inadmissible to the US, which means that you are not eligible for a visa or green card to the US unless you qualify for a waiver. There is a general waiver available to nonimmigrants and an “extreme hardship” waiver available to immigrant, or green card, applicants. However, it is important to know if the petty offense exception applies to you so that you are not inadmissible despite the crime of moral turpitude. You may qualify for a petty offense exception, if:
- You have committed only one Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) ever, and
- the maximum penalty for the offense you committed is one year or less, and
- you were sentenced to no more than six months in prison, regardless of how much time you actually served.
To determine whether a particular offense falls with the petty offense exception or if you have other questions about whether your criminal history might affect your immigration petition, you should speak with a qualified immigration lawyer as soon as possible. I’ve helped clients around the world with a range of complicated immigration issues, and I’d like to help you too.