visa with criminal record

EP26: Applying For a K1 or CR1 Visa With a Criminal Record?

Then number of people in the US that have been arrested or convicted is ridiculously high. There is a statistic that says as many Americans have a criminal record that have college degrees! So, this podcast episode is all about getting the K1 or CR1 visa with a criminal record.
Thanks to the US prison industrial complex, there are plenty of people to run through the system. Unfortunately, this means that more and more Americans have criminal records which can affect their chances of petitioning for a relative visa.

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Fact: 70 million Americans have a criminal record… that’s 1 in 3 US residents!
criminal records in america stats

Factors That Affect Elibgility for Visa or Green Card

The factors that surround your criminal history are almost as important as the actual conviction. USCIS will take into considering a few factors that I outline below:

  • Type of conviction
    • What you were convicted of will make a huge difference in how USCIS sees your criminal past. If you were convicted of a minor nonviolent crime, you have a much better change of getting approved for the K1 fiancé visa or CR1 spouse visa.
  • Facts surrounding the case
    • Whether you committed the crime as a result of self defense or abuse, the circumstances will be important factor. USCIS will take in account exactly what happened, when and who was involved.
  • Your age at the time the crime was committed
    • How old you were during the crime will also factor into the decision of USCIS. If you were a minor at the time, this can help your case more than if the crime was committed very recently as an adult.
  • Number of convictions on your record
    • Having multiple convictions will not help your case. It will be much harder to get your visa petition approved with multiple convictions even if they are minor crimes. I recommend consulting with an immigration attorney that specializes in criminal records before going forward. You can get some good information even if you simply go to a free consultation.
  • Maximum penalty and length of prison sentence imposed
    • The time you were sentenced to is also an important factor. The longer the sentence the more impact it will have on your visa application.

Do you want to apply for the K1 fiancé visa or CR1 spouse visa? Get the personalized help you need at the Migrant Academy! It’s an interactive online course platform with live Q&A calls, online case tracker, downloadable resources and a great community of other couples. Join us today!

USCIS Is Concerned About Your Criminal History

police arrest

There is a reason why USCIS reviews everyone’s criminal history. They want to make sure that the US citizen isn’t a violent offender that is bringing an unsuspecting immigrant to the US to be abused or murdered.

On the other hand, USCIS also wants to protect the US public from a foreigner that may have an extensive criminal history.

  • Protect the beneficiary
    • One reason USCIS is concerned about your criminal history as the US petitioner is to protect the foreign beneficiary. If you had a past of violent or sex crimes against a minor, your new fiancé or spouse could be at risk.
  • Reduce chance of beneficiary becoming a public charge
    • This reason may come as a surprise to you but if you are at a high risk of being arrested and sent to prison, who will financially support your fiancé or spouse?
  • Never lie!
    • USCIS will do a fingerprint search which will uncover your arrest and criminal history no matter how long it has been. Even if you were a minor or your records were sealed, they can still obtain this information so be truthful on your applicatio

Related Post: Learn more about filing I-130 when petitioner has a criminal record.

Applying For Visa With A Criminal Record

Petitioning a spouse or fiancé can be a daunting task but throw in a lengthy criminal past and it really gets difficult to wrap your head around it.

If you are overwhelmed with the process overall, you may want to check out the Migrant Academy. It’s an online community and course platform where you can get personalized help and straightforward answers on what to expect during the immigration process.

US Citizen/LPR (petitioner) With a Criminal Record

When it comes to the criminal record of the US citizen or green card holder, it’s important to know whether you are affected by the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) or IMBRA.

    • When completing the I-129F petition or I-130 petition you must disclose if you have EVER been arrested/convicted.
    • Include an explanation letter about the circumstances of your arrest and charges.
    • You must disclose certain crimes under the Adam Walsh Act.
    • You must disclose crimes under IMBRA (international marriage broker regulation Act)(K1 visa)
    • What does IMBRA do to help the beneficiary?
    • Help to reduce abuse of marriage based visa recipients
      • To stop abuse of mail order brides
      • Does not allow personal info of minors to be given to any person
      • Duty to disclose US sponsors criminal history

Note: a serious criminal history can negatively affect your visa case!

Certain Convictions May Get Your Application Denied

Depending on the crime that you were convicted of, you could face a visa denial.

After reading a good bit about this, I noticed that it’s mainly looking at crimes against minors and violent offenses. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if your crime falls outside of this it’s smooth sailing!

Each case is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

      • Specific offenses against minor – must prove you are “no risk” to beneficiary
        • Date of conviction doesn’t matter
        • Even if act happened before the Adam Walsh Act
      • murder
      • spousal abuse
      • child abuse
      • aggravated assault

Foreign Beneficiary With a Criminal Record

The foreign spouse or fiancé will have a criminal background check completed before a visa will be issued. So, if there is anything in your past that you are concerned with, you should probably get court records for yourself and get advice before filing.

    • You 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.
      • Violent crimes – murder and assault
      • Nonviolent crimes – drug possession, multiple DUI, drug trafficking, money laundering, prostitution

Inadmissibility and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

BIA crimes involving moral turpitude notice

Depending on the crime that you were convicted of, you may be considered inadmissible. This means that you are not allowed to enter the United States because fo your criminal past.

  • Any crimes involving moral turpitude
    • Crimes involving moral turpitude show what type of person you are. In most cases, you can overcome this but it will really depend on the actual crime committed. For more information about crimes involving moral turpitude, check out this post.
  • Controlled substance violations
    • If you were convicted of crimes involving controlled drugs, then that may cause you to be inadmissible.
  • Multiple criminal convictions
    • Multiple convictions can really get you into trouble. Even if it was nonviolent such as multiple DUIs! If you have multiple convictions you should probably get advice from a lawyer before filing your application.

Related Post: K1 petitioner has a felony criminal record, can we get approved?

Waiver Available For Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Thankfully, a waiver is available for some crimes involving moral turpitude!

Take a look at the list below. If your conviction is listed here, then the good news is that you may be eligible for the I-212(h) waiver.

  • 212(h) waiver available for some crimes:
    • a crime involving moral turpitude (except for murder or torture)
    • two or more crimes with a combined sentence of five years or more (except for murder or torture)
    • one offense relating to simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
    • prostitution or commercialized vice, or
    • having committed a serious criminal offense, claimed immunity for that offense (for example, diplomatic immunity), and left the United States, without thereafter being prosecuted in a U.S. court for that offense.

Cases Where No Waiver Is Available

In the following scenarios, no waiver will be available.

Speak with an experience immigration lawyer to see if you have any other options. This blog doesn’t go into detail about overcoming a visa denial due to criminal history with no option of a waiver.

  • any drug crime (other than an offense related to simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana)
  • drug trafficking
  • murder or torture
  • significant trafficking of people
  • money laundering
  • severe violation of religious freedom while serving as a foreign government official.

Final Thoughts On Getting A Visa With Criminal Record

So when it comes to getting a visa with criminal record, it won’t be easy. You have to show that you have severed your time or have been rehabilitated.

USCIS wants to do is protect the beneficiary from unknowingly marrying someone that will abuse them. In addition to this, USCIS wants to protect the US public from a foreigner that may immigrate and commit a serious crime here.

All visa applicants will have a background check and FBI name check run. If you are unsure of what’s in your own criminal history, you can always request your court records from your local courthouse.

Do you want to apply for the K1 fiancé visa or CR1 spouse visa? Get the personalized help you need at the Migrant Academy! It’s an interactive online course platform with live Q&A calls, online case tracker, downloadable resources and a great community of other couples. Join us today!

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