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How Does Criminal Record Impact Immigration?

Permanent and Conditional Bars That May Affect Your Eligibility

It may not come as a surprise that a criminal record can have a significant impact on someone’s ability to immigrate to the United States. However, not all crimes will immediately result in someone being unable to apply for a Green Card or other visa. To better understand what effects may result, it is important to know the permanent and conditional bars that may affect your eligibility.

Permanent Bars to Immigration in the United States

Crimes considered "permanent bars" are those that have severe legal ramifications. Generally, these can be broken into three major categories:

  • Aggravated felonies: murder, drug trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, etc.
  • Crimes involving "moral turpitude" or evil intent: murder, rape, fraud, etc.
  • Crimes involving illegal drugs: most drug-related convictions may be considered permanent bars.

These are only a few examples, as there are many other crimes that can fall into one of these categories. Keep in mind, however, that even if one of the above crimes is present on your criminal record, you may be able to obtain Green Card eligibility by filing a “waiver of inadmissibility." Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help you better understand what convictions may be considered and how to obtain a waiver.

Conditional Bars to Immigration in the United States

There are also what are known as "conditional bars" to immigration. These are conditions that may not result in an automatic permanent bar, but can still have major implications. Some examples of conditional bars include:

  • Length of Sentence Served: if you have been sentenced to five years or more in prison, you will be ineligible for immigration for 20 years.
  • Number of Convictions: if you have been convicted of two or more crimes, you will be ineligible for immigration for five years.

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

At Maney | Gordon | Zeller, P.A., we believe that every individual should be able to pursue their American dream and are willing to work with you to understand the factors affecting your application. Schedule a consultation with a member of our team today to discuss how we can help you.
 

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