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Can a criminal record torpedo your green card?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Immigration And Naturalization

Immigrating to the U.S. to work in New Jersey is much more complicated if you have a prior criminal record. While not impossible, the process is more difficult because of the severity of restrictions in the United States. The USCIS will want to know every detail of your criminal history. However, if your offenses are minor, you may be able to obtain permission to work in the United States. The document that documents your right to seek work is sometimes called a “green card.”

What kinds of crimes are inadmissible?

A common form of criminal defense for immigrants is that they have not committed any type of crime that could get their application denied. These include:

  • Aggravated felonies
  • Crimes that involve moral turpitude
  • Offenses that involve illegal drugs

An aggravated felony can include such offenses as murder, trafficking in drugs, filing a false tax return or the sexual abuse of a minor.

Moral turpitude covers such issues as rape, murder, fraud and abusing animals.

Most drug convictions will render you ineligible to receive a green card. An exception is if you are convicted of possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana for your personal use. In such a case, you can apply for a waiver that may help you get your green card.

Never lie on an immigration form

The worst thing you can do is lie about your past criminal history on an immigration form. Your application will immediately be rendered null and void if the lie is caught. This extends even to offenses that would not normally cause you to be considered inadmissible. The mere fact that you lied to the USCIS is enough to invalidate your request.

Remember that a criminal conviction under the laws of a foreign country is not necessarily equivalent to a sentence in the U.S. This applies especially to the definition a foreign country may give to the classification of a felony.

The questions that cover a possible criminal history are in Form I-485, “Application to Adjust Status.” This applies if you are applying from inside the U.S. If not, they will be contained in Form DS-260, also known as the “Immigrant Visa Application.”