If you plan to come to the US or apply for a green card, you must keep yourself away from committing criminal activities, resulting in denying your visa or green card, crimes disqualify you from getting a green card. USCIS officials reviewing your application will determine whether or not you are ineligible from obtaining a US visa or immigration benefit. If you are found ineligible, your visa application will eventually be rejected unless you obtain a waiver for your ineligibility. This article will provide insight into the crimes that could make you ineligible for a US visa and shatter your hopes of entering the US.
What crimes disqualify you from getting a green card or visa?
Not every crime or tort you commit will disqualify you from getting a visa. A list of crimes are written under section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or 8 USC § 1182(a), which are deemed as grounds of inadmissibility. This includes any crime involving moral turpitude, trafficking persons, money laundering, or crime related to prostitution. You will most probably not become ineligible for a US visa for petty offenses; however, try to keep your record clean to avoid troubles in your visa application processing. The list of crimes that could disqualify you from getting a visa are:
- If you have committed a crime that involves moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or even an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime will disqualify you.
Exception(s): – You will be immune from the above disqualification condition if you committed the offense when you were younger than 18 years of age and were released from jail more than five years before applying for a visa or any other immigration benefit. – You will also get protection if the maximum penalty for the crime committed does not exceed one year in prison and you were not sentenced to more than six months of imprisonment.
Multiple Criminal Convictions
- You get disqualified if you have been convicted of more than two offenses (other than purely political offenses). The aggregate punishment for the crimes should be more than five years of confinement. The “multiple criminal convictions” ground of inadmissibility applies irrespective of whether the conviction was in a single trial or whether the offenses arose from a single scheme of misconduct, and whether the offenses involved moral turpitude.
Controlled Substances Crimes
You will be deemed inadmissible if:
- you have violated, conspired, or attempted to violate any law or regulation of the US, any of its states, or any foreign states relating to a controlled substance.
- the consular officer or the Attorney General knows or has reason to believe that you are or have been an illicit trafficker of any controlled substance or any listed chemicals (section 801 of Title 21). If you knowingly aided, abetted, assisted, conspired, or colluded in illicit drug trafficking, this includes you.
- Note: This includes the spouse, son, or daughter of any alien inadmissible as a controlled substance trafficker if said applicant has received financial or other benefits from the illicit activities and knew or reasonably should have known where the money or benefit came from.
Prostitution and Commercialized Vice
You will be inadmissible if:
- you are entering the United States exclusively to participate in prostitution or have engaged in prostitution within ten years of the date of the visa, admission, or adjustment of status application.
- you, directly or indirectly, procured or attempted to procure prostitutes or persons with the purpose of prostitution within the previous ten years. This also includes the receipt of any proceeds from prostitution.
- you are coming to the US to indulge in other unlawful commercialized vices.
Traffickers in persons
You will be inadmissible if:
- you committed or conspired to commit human trafficking offenses, whether in the US or outside the US. This also includes whether US government officials knew or had reason to believe that you aided, abetted, assisted, conspired, or colluded with such a trafficker.
- Note: This includes the spouse, son, or daughter of any alien inadmissible under the significant trafficker in-person ground who received financial or other benefits from the illicit activity (within the last 5 years) and knew or reasonably should have known that the money or other benefit came from the illicit activity. It will not apply to sons and daughters who were a child when they received such benefits.
You will be inadmissible if:
- the consular officer or the Attorney General knows or has reason to believe that you will engage or have the motive to engage in money laundering or believes you are an aider, abettor, assister, conspirator, or colluder with money launderers.
How does USCIS discover/find your criminal record?
When you apply for a US visa, you must answer about your past conviction or arrest for a crime, if any. You must not lie on your application as your lies can be discovered, which could lead to the revocation of any future immigration benefit. One of the ways to trace your past criminal record is through your biometrics. In many US visa applications, you must provide biometrics as a part of your visa process. Consult an attorney if you are guilty of any past crimes –they will guide you and also apply for a waiver, if necessary.
What is a waiver?
It is not a golden rule that you will become inadmissible for obtaining a visa once you commit a crime. For certain crimes, you can request a waiver, i.e., legal forgiveness for your crime. If you are allowed a waiver, you can process your visa application without any fear of getting denied or rejected. Section 212(h) of the INA provides a waiver for the crimes. Consulting an attorney is the right thing before requesting a waiver.
Keeping your record clean is a virtue in successfully approving your visa application apart from fulfilling the visa requirements. However, you should not fear if you have committed a crime that could make you inadmissible. Your visa attorneys will better guide you on how to proceed if you are trapped in the above situation. Our attorneys are determined to help aliens fulfill their dreams of entering the US and getting a green card. You can contact us if you feel trapped, and our attorneys will be delighted to assist you through the process.