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How might a criminal record harm your immigration options?

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2024 | Crimmigration

A lot of people would love to live in the United States. Unfortunately for them, the tight limits on numbers mean many will never get that opportunity. Those who get the chance to apply must meet strict conditions, as must those who want to retain their right to stay once here.

One condition people need to meet is to be of good moral character. Or rather to be so in the eyes of any immigration official or judge dealing with your case. 

What is good moral character?

An immigration official or judge presiding over a case won’t know much about you. All they’ll have to go on are a few details, one of which is whether you have ever been in trouble with the police.

While one arrest or conviction won’t necessarily preclude someone from success when seeking a visa, or citizenship or fighting deportation, it is unlikely to help either. Depending on the number of offenses, their recency and severity, it may play a big role in a judge deciding that someone is not of sufficient moral character to be allowed to enter or stay or accede to naturalization.

It’s one of the reasons that if you succeed in legally entering the country, you should always seek help to understand your options for fighting any charge you face, however minor. A series of convictions for minor offenses could help a judge form a negative opinion of you. As could one particularly serious crime, said to be of “moral turpitude,” such as fraud, manslaughter or an aggravated felony.

There is no empirical measurement of character, so it comes down to the subjective opinion of those in charge of assessing your situation. Having help to present your case will increase the chance they realize you have what is needed, despite any errors you may have made along the way.