The immigration process is difficult enough, but when you are dealing with a situation where a criminal record is involved, the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) will be especially tough on those individuals who wish to become U.S. citizens. In fact, a criminal record, no matter how small or minor the crime, can be grounds for removal from the United States.
For example, let’s say you are already a permanent resident and you are convicted of misdemeanor drug possession. Depending upon the specifics of the crime, you may be removable from the United States. Immigration law is very tough on crime and immigrants are held to a higher standard than citizens. Because even permanent residents otherwise in good standing could be removed from the United States for minor drug possession, it is imperative that any immigrant seeking to adjust his or her status based on marriage speak to a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible.
Once you apply to adjust your status after getting married, the USCIS will run a thorough criminal background check on you. You must always be honest and make sure you have copies of every court disposition, meaning, you need documentation of what the crime is and what the court’s final decision was regarding the matter. Simply because you may have a criminal record does not outright render you ineligible for adjustment of status based on marriage, but you definitely have an uphill battle. Many feel immigration law is too strict when it comes to minor crimes and immigrant status, but until the law changes, immigrants need to be especially careful and stay out of trouble.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Approval?
While a criminal record can certainly have a negative impact on your application to adjust your status based on marriage, you can take measures that will show the immigration authorities that you are worthy of being a permanent resident and eventual United States citizen. The list below describes characteristics that will reflect favorably on your application to adjust your status after being married.
• Obtain full-time, steady employment, and have a good attendance record;
• Stay drug free and do not drive under the influence;
• Request that your employer, family members, professors, (if you are a student), and friends write affidavits for you attesting to your good moral character;
• Obtain copies of all documents relating to your prior criminal matter;
• Write an affidavit of your own attesting to why you deserve to become a permanent resident; and
• Contact an experienced immigration attorney before speaking with immigration authorities
These tips are not the only steps you can take to help your chances of gaining permanent resident status, but they will definitely put you in the right direction. Panicking never helps any situation. While you have every reason to be afraid of how immigration may handle your criminal history, if you do whatever you can to be a model citizen right now and speak with an attorney, the process will go much smoother. It is not advisable to take on the immigration authorities on your own without an immigration attorney by your side.
Call Our Immigration Attorneys Today for a Consultation to Discuss Your Case
If you are married and plan to apply for an adjustment of status based on marriage, and the immigrant spouse has a criminal record, you need to speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. Before talking to USCIS or any other immigrant official, you need to be aware of your rights and obligations. You have the obligation to be truthful to the immigration authorities, and you should seek counsel prior to filling out the required forms so that you have a plan to help minimize the impact of your criminal record. Contact the law firm of Geygan & Geygan, Ltd. today to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys. You may call us at 513-791-1673, or you may contact us online.