Will My Criminal History Prevent Me From Applying For Residency?

When applying for your residency, one of the first things considered by USCIS is whether or not the applicant has a criminal history.  Most of the time, this is a non-issue for applicants with a clean record. In that instance, the application is completed without a second thought. However, if you have a criminal record, it is easy to start over-worrying and stressing out about whether your criminal history could deter or even stop you from qualifying for your residency.  The INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) has a number of references to crimes and can be rather convoluted at times. 

 

Although some crimes will automatically disqualify an applicant from benefits, not all do.  The government has recognized that mistakes can and do happen and has a general framework for considering the impact of a criminal record on an application. And just in case you are wondering, it still counts if the crimes were committed outside of the United States!

 

The three kinds of crimes that will immediately disqualify someone from residency are 1) aggravated felonies, 2) crimes involving moral turpitude and 3) crimes involving illegal drugs. Important to note is that you would have to be convicted of these crimes in order to be disqualified.  However, if you were convicted, there are still avenues available by way of special circumstance waivers that may apply to your case. 

 

The relevant aggravated felonies are murder, drug trafficking, filing false tax returns and sexual abuse of a minor.  The most common crimes involving moral turpitude are murder, rape, fraud and animal abuse. With regard to relevant drug crimes, any drug related conviction can make you ineligible. 

 

If you are unsure of how your particular situation would play out, please do not hesitate to reach out to our firm so we can discuss the specifics of your case and guide you along the process. We can be contacted at (201) 880-9374.