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Is a green card possible with a criminal history?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2023 | Immigration And Naturalization

As an immigrant with a criminal record who is living in New Jersey, you may still be eligible to apply for a green card. However, having a record can make the process more complicated.

Disqualification for a green card

First, determine if your criminal history will make you ineligible for a green card. Certain crimes, such as drug trafficking, murder, and racketeering, will automatically disqualify you. Other crimes, such as fraud or a minor drug offense, may result in a bar from obtaining a green card for a specific period.

Eligibility with a criminal record

If you are eligible to apply, completing Form I-485 is standard. That is the application to register permanent residence or adjust status form. During the application process, you must disclose your criminal history and provide relevant court and police records.

Additionally, if you are in removal proceedings, you may need to file a motion to reopen or a motion to terminate proceedings before you can file Form I-485.

Application process

If there is a denial of your application for a green card due to your criminal history, you may still have options. You may be able to appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) within 33 days of receiving the denial. However, this process may take several months to a year to complete.

USCIS decides

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider the nature and severity of the criminal history and any rehabilitation or evidence of good character when deciding on the green card application.

Waiver of grounds of inadmissibility

The waiver of inadmissibility, also known as Form I-601 is the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. In immigration law, this form allows you to request that USCIS waive your inadmissibility based on your criminal history.

Deciding factors

Even if you are eligible to apply for a green card, the decision to grant or deny your application is ultimately up to USCIS. They will take into consideration the nature and severity of your criminal history, as well as any rehabilitation or evidence of good character.