I am in H-1B visa status. Will it affect my immigration status if I have committed and been convicted a crime?

It will depend on what kind of offense and the sentencing one receives. In any event, any offense, felony or misdemeanor, may have serious consequences on one’s immigration process, whether one is in the process of obtaining a greencard, a greencard holder, or applying for citizenship. You may want to consult both with an immigration attorney and a criminal attorney.

What are the possible immigration consequences of criminal conviction?

There are serious immigration consequences that result from criminal convictions, sometimes more than the penal consequences. A criminal conviction, even for a minor misdemeanor or infraction, can result in:

  • removal from the United States
  • denial of naturalization
  • a finding of inadmissibility, thus rendering foreign national ineligible for various immigration benefits such as greencard.
  • permanently bar the foreign national from returning to the United States.

I just have one record of DUI. Will it affect my immigration status or process?

Immigration law is federal, while every state has its penal code to define what is classified as misdemeanor or felony. In some states, one single DUI offense under certain circumstances can be classified as felony offense, thus may result in a finding of inadmissibility if one is applying for greencard, or denial of naturalization application. Multiple DUIs within a time period in most states can become a felony. You may want to consult both with an immigration attorney and a criminal attorney.

How about traffic/moving violation?

Generally a minor traffic or moving violation may not have any immigration consequences; however, serious moving violations such as reckless driving can have significant effect, which may render one inadmissible or ineligible for naturalization.

Are shoplifting and domestic violence deportable offenses?

Shoplifting, particularly petty theft under $500, is considered misdemeanor under state laws. However, shoplifting may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) in the immigration context, which may make non-citizen inadmissible or application for naturalization denied. A conviction of domestic violence is ground for removal. This applies to non-citizens and greencard holders.

My criminal case has been dismissed. Will it still affect my immigration process?

A dismissal can be regarded as a conviction in the immigration context, unless a case is dismissed on its merit by the court. If the procedure that leads to dismissal requires an admission of guilt, despite the ultimate dismissal, the admission of guilt alone can be regarded as a removable offense. It is therefore important to examine the procedures that lead to dismissal, specifically they vary from state to state.

My criminal record has been expunged. Will it still affect my immigration process?

Most likely. Although the disposition of your case will determine what kind of effect it will have, the fact that your record has been expunged does not “erase” the arrest or conviction for immigration purposes.