Kentucky Arrest Warrants – US Immigration: Petitioners with Prior Criminal Convictions

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US Immigration: Petitioners with Prior Criminal Convictions

This piece looks at how American criminal convictions can effect the Immigration process.

In the rather recent past, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (also referred to as USCIS) officers were not particularly concerned with an individual’s criminal history so long as they were an American Citizen petitioning on behalf of a foreign fiancee or spouse. With the passage of legislation such as the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA), and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) this rather laid back attitude changed. Presently, an individual’s criminal record could have a negative impact upon their ability to act as a Petitioner for an American visa. In many cases, a waiver of some sort is necessary where the Petitioner has been convicted of certain offenses. This may also be the case even where the Petitioner has committed relatively minor offenses, but committed enough offenses so as to require a USCIS waiver.

In any American Immigration case, those with a criminal record are usually well advised to seek legal counsel from a licensed US Immigration attorney as one’s criminal record could have a detrimental impact upon one’s ability to petition for immigration benefits. The right to legal advice regarding immigration matters for criminal defendants was recently enshrined in the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Padilla v. Kentucky. The Court in that case found that an alien defendant in the USA has a right to counsel regarding the immigration ramifications of criminal pleadings. Even though this decision preserves the right to counsel for defendants in criminal proceedings whose plea could affect their legal status in the USA, it also vividly demonstrates how important it is to receive competent legal advice before making any decision that could have any impact upon later immigration proceedings.

US Immigration law can be perplexing for some, in the recent past it was viewed by the public as more clear-cut. After 09/11/2001 the American government reorganized the agencies traditionally involved in the US Immigration process. The result was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which has jurisdiction over most of the agencies tasked with processing visas to America. That being said, the State Department also remains a significant agency in the visa process. Since the creation of new laws curbing immigrants’ and petitioners’ rights it would seem that more people are turning to American lawyers for assistance because an experienced American Immigration attorney is often able to provide insight about strategies to streamline the overall immigration process.