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October 18, 2010: Will A Criminal Record Disqualify This Applicant?

Will a Criminal Record Disqualify This Applicant?

Can my husband get his papers without leaving the country even though he has a criminal record?
— Anonymous

The answer to your question is maybe. It depends on the nature of the criminal record, and other factors. Some criminal convictions can be “waived” or forgiven when an application for permanent residency is filed. Other convictions do not have the capability of being waived.

Generally, this will depend on the seriousness of the crimes. Drug convictions and convictions for violent crimes are the most difficult to get waived. It would be best to obtain certified copies of all arrest reports and dispositions, and have these reviewed by an immigration lawyer. Only then will you know the answer to whether the crimes can be waived.

Even if they can be waived, that does not mean the granting of a waiver is automatic. In fact, the waiver application process involves a request for discretionary relief, meaning that it is a judgment call by the adjudicating officer. Whether he must leave the country to obtain his residency is the next issue. The answer to this depends on his manner of entry to the USA.

Generally, if he entered with a non-immigrant visa, he could be eligible to adjust to permanent residency in the USA, assuming he is otherwise eligible. That is, if his criminal record does not render him inadmissible.

Good luck to you.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Lawyers

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