Arrest vs Conviction: How this can affect your Visa Application

Arrest vs Conviction: How this can affect your Visa Application

In a recent meeting between American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the question was asked as to why the Department of State was revoking more non immigrant visas based on an arrest and not a conviction. While this question is more directed at the Department of State, there are some USCIS policy’s that needed some clarification. Here is what is important for visa applicants to be aware of.

An arrest record is very different from a conviction record. Just because an individual is arrested does not mean that a criminal act took place and therefore should not solely have a negative impact on their application. In contrast, a conviction record shows a person has pled or been found guilty of a criminal act. While not all criminal acts offer an automatic revocation of a visa application, some convictions do. It is extremely beneficial to anyone seeking a visa to hire legal counsel to aid them through the process especially when a criminal history is involved.

It needs to be noted that when USCIS is reviewing applicants for immigrant benefits, they do receive information from law enforcement agencies through biographic and biometric inquires. If an arrest with pending criminal charges is found through one of these avenues, the officer in charge of reviewing the application may request more information or require an interview. This gives both parties an opportunity to clarify any questions in regards to a pending or prior matter.

This is a prime example of how beneficial retaining legal counsel can be to help guide you through the process and offer a far more positive outcome than going at it on your own.

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