Will a Criminal Record Affect My Immigration Case?

Just because you qualify for a visa or green card doesn’t necessarily mean that you will eligible for it. Having a criminal record is one of the grounds for inadmissibility that USCIS uses to determine whether to issue a visa or green card.

Let’s say that you have a US citizen spouse that wants to petition for you so you can get a green card. But, you have a criminal conviction from 10 years ago for drug trafficking which now makes you inadmissible. What should you do? First, you should order your own criminal background check in your home country to see what’s in it.

Next, you can review it against the types of crimes that will make you ineligible to enter the United States. Luckily, even if you do have a crime that makes you inadmissible, USCIS allows for you to apply for a waiver.

Get a copy of your criminal record to confirm that it’s correct.

Factors That Will Affect Eligibility for Visa or Green Card

  • Type of conviction
  • Facts surrounding the case
  • Your age at the time the crime was committed
  • Number of convictions on your record
  • Maximum penalty and length of prison sentence imposed

Serious crimes such as murder or rape will likely make getting a green card impossible.

Applying For CR1 Spouse Visa With A Criminal Record

US citizen/LPR (petitioner) with a criminal record

  • Must disclose crimes under the Adam Walsh Act
  • Waiver available for crimes involving Adam Walsh Act

Foreign Spouse (beneficiary) with a criminal record

  • Must submit criminal background check for all countries you’ve lived in for more than 6 months (after age 16)
  • Crimes of moral turpitude may cause you to be denied
    • murder
    • voluntary manslaughter
    • involuntary manslaughter
    • rape
    • spousal abuse
    • child abuse
    • incest
    • kidnapping
    • robbery
    • aggravated assault
    • mayhem
    • animal fighting
    • theft
    • fraud, and
    • conspiracy