Immigrating to the United States can be a dream come true for many people and families who are seeking better opportunities and a brighter future. However, if a person has a criminal record, this can make the immigration process more complicated. U.S. immigration officials consider a wide variety of factors when determining whether a person is eligible to enter the United States or receive authorization for permanent residence. Some of the most important of those factors will be related to admissibility, and a criminal record may cause a person to be deemed inadmissible. By understanding the types of offenses that could make a person inadmissible and the options for addressing these issues, immigrants can determine what steps they may be able to take to receive authorization for immigration to the United States.
Criminal Convictions That May Result in Inadmissibility
Certain classes of people may be inadmissible to the U.S., which means that they are not eligible to receive visas or be allowed to enter the United States. While there are multiple grounds for inadmissibility, some of the most common and serious reasons a person may be deemed inadmissible will be related to criminal convictions. Types of convictions that may result in inadmissibility include:
Crimes involving moral turpitude – This is a broad category of criminal offenses that may be considered to be immoral, depraved, or reprehensible. While the laws do not identify specific crimes that fall into this category, any offenses that may be shocking or upsetting to the general public may qualify. These may include violent crimes such as murder or assault, sex offenses such as sexual assault, or theft or fraud that caused people to suffer financial harm. While these types of offenses will generally cause a person to be inadmissible, exceptions may be available in certain situations. These include crimes committed while a person was younger than 18 and at least five years before they applied for a visa, as well as offenses with a maximum penalty of one year in prison for which a person was sentenced to six months or less.
Drug crimes – Violations of any state or federal laws related to controlled substances or similar laws in another country may make a person inadmissible. These may include drug possession, manufacturing or distributing controlled substances, drug trafficking, or engaging in a drug conspiracy. Exceptions may be available in situations where a person was convicted of a single offense of possession of no more than 30 grams of marijuana.
Prostitution – Anyone who plans to engage in “commercialized vice” in the United States or who has engaged in prostitution or solicitation within 10 years before applying for a visa will be inadmissible. Procuring or facilitating prostitution, such as by importing people into the U.S. to engage in prostitution, will also result in inadmissibility.
Human trafficking – Offenses related to transporting, harboring, coercing, or forcing people to engage in forced labor or commercial sex acts will cause a person to be inadmissible.
Money laundering – Attempts to conceal the source of money that was obtained through illegal activity may result in state or federal criminal charges, and a person who is convicted will be deemed inadmissible.
Multiple convictions – Two or more criminal convictions that resulted in a total prison sentence of at least five years will cause a person to be inadmissible.
Contact Our Illinois Immigration Lawyers for Criminal Convictions
If you are considering immigrating to the United States, and you have a criminal record, it is important to understand how previous convictions may impact your eligibility for immigration. If you are found to be inadmissible, you may still be able to receive a visa by applying for a waiver of inadmissibility. At [[title]], our DuPage County visa application attorneys can help you understand how to address these issues, and we will work with you to address issues related to inadmissibility or other concerns related to applications for visas or Green Cards. Contact us at [[phone]] to arrange a free consultation.