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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Criminal History Records

If you have ever been arrested, or convicted for a crime, it would have serious effect on your immigration status. Often, immigration petitions/applications will ask you for if you have ever been arrested, charged, or convicted. Having an arrest or conviction, does not automatically disqualify you, however, you will need to submit documentation of those arrests and convictions.

Be honest. You can not hide your criminal record from the USCIS. They have access to the FBI criminal database, and if you have been in trouble before, they will find it. Failure to disclose your criminal history can result in the denial of your petition/application.

Again, having been arrested or convicted is not an automatic disqualification. Depending on the particular petition/application and the nature of the crime, only recent arrests and convictions will be considered. However, you must still disclose ALL past arrests and convictions.

First it is advisable for you to run a complete national criminal background check on yourself (if you have been arrested or convicted a number of times). These are available online for a fee. Once you have an idea of all of your arrests and convictions, you will need to contact each particular court with your case number to get the file. It is important to get the “complaint” or “information”, or “charging document”. This will show what crime you were being charged with. Also it is important to get the “order”, “sentence” or any other document which showed that a case was dismissed or a sentence was imposed. Finally, if you were sentenced, you will need some type of documentation to show that you have successfully completed the sentence. This can usually be obtained from the court, police department, or probation office, in the area where you were arrested.

Collecting all of these documents can be a time consuming process, especially if you do not live in the area that you were arrested in. The courts mail out your file, if you pay a copying fee. However, this can often take weeks to months, so give your self plenty of time.

If you have been arrested or convicted of serious crimes, such as violent crimes, homicides, drug trafficking, terrorism, etc, it is advisable to consult an attorney before you file your petition/application.

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