I am often asked if a minor indiscretion in one’s youth, e.g. a petty theft, a DUI, could affect one’s immigration status. Often, the concerned individuals become worried not at the time they had to make the decision to either stay out of trouble or face negative consequences, but after the fact and when they are about to apply for some immigration benefit, such as green card renewal, or application for citizenship.
The list of criminal conduct that can have negative impact on one’s immigration status (e.g. making one removable [“deportable”]), is not the focus of this short article here. But do know that, even if the immigration benefit form does not ask for disclosure (e.g., the I-90 form to renew an expired or expiring green card), the individual will get fingerprinted (biometrics), and the past criminal conduct may come up. If there were aggravated circumstances, those may lead to basis(es) for inadmissibility or removability. I often tell clients that their real concern is not just whether or not they get that certain immigration they may be thinking about applying for; rather, they may have the bigger issue of being found removable and placed into proceedings as result of past indiscretions. Before applying for any immigration benefits yourself, if you have any question regarding any past criminal history you may have, get in contact with us and we can help you understand what options you may have.