Arrest and criminal records are virtually all online today, so an arrest or conviction in your past or in another state can impact your green card application today and could potentially result in denial. When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reviewing immigration green card (Lawful Permanent Resident) applications, they conduct a background search including biometrics and receive information from law enforcement agencies about any history of arrest, pending charges or criminal convictions. A misdemeanor crime charge or conviction may not be the end of your green card application.
USCIS identifies four types of misdemeanor charges that could result in serious immigration consequences – including deportation – for a green card application or renewal:
1. crimes involving moral turpitude
2. crimes of violence
3. domestic battery
4. controlled substance (drug) violations
It is important that if you are charged or convicted with a misdemeanor crime in the United States, you should consult a knowledgeable attorney experienced in both criminal and immigration law and the unique aspects of facing criminal charges when you are not a U.S. citizen. Chicago criminal defense and immigration attorney Mario Godoy explains,
Immigration laws are federal, but what qualifies as misdemeanor crimes are defined by each state, and are different from state to state. In Illinois, a misdemeanor is crime punishable by imprisonment for less than one year. However, in other states a misdemeanor is punishable by one year of imprisonment and is also defined by that state as a misdemeanor.
If you are a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident, you must renew your green card every ten years by filing Form I-90. As part of the renewal process, you will be required to undergo a new background search and biometrics check, which will include fingerprinting. If you have been charged or convicted with a crime, even a misdemeanor crime, and need to renew your green card, you should consult an attorney experienced in both criminal and immigration law.
Misdemeanor crime is a serious issue for non-citizens. The attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office fight for the rights of immigrants in Illinois and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. If you need help with a criminal charge or another immigration issue, please contact our office online today.