US immigration law has specific categories of crimes that can make someone inadmissible (barred from entering the US) or deportable (removed from the US). These restrictions apply regardless of when or where the crime was committed and whether or not the record of conviction was expunged. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

Types of Crimes:

  • Aggravated Felonies: This is a serious category defined by immigration law. Examples include murder, rape, drug trafficking, certain firearms offenses, and theft crimes with sentences exceeding one year. A conviction for an aggravated felony almost always leads to removal proceedings.
  • Crimes of Moral Turpitude (CIMT): These are crimes that are considered inherently base, vile, or depraved. Examples include fraud, domestic violence, prostitution, and some theft offenses. The specific elements of the criminal statute, and the length sentence will be considered when determining inadmissibility or deportability based on CIMT. This is a complex and contentious area of law and often, your admissibility or deportability hinges on whether or not the statute of conviction is a CIMT, irrespective of you actually may have done.
  • Multiple Crimes: Even if the individual crimes wouldn’t qualify on their own, having two or more convictions of CIMTs (not arising from a single incident) can be grounds for not admitting you or removal from the United States.

Why it Matters:

  • Inadmissibility: If you have a criminal record that falls under these categories, you might be denied entry to the US, even if you have a visa or are trying to immigrate. Typically, depending on the crime, there is no waiver available or it is extremely difficult to qualify for one.
  • Deportability: Even if you’re already legally present in the US, these crimes can trigger removal proceedings.

If you have any arrest or conviction on your record, chances are that USCIS or the State Department will request a certified final disposition of the criminal case. They will not render a final decision in your favor without this document. Obtaining a certified copy of a criminal disposition typically involves contacting the Clerk of the court where the case was handled. The process can vary depending on the jurisdiction, so here’s how to find out the specifics:

Identify the Court: In most cases, the disposition will be from the court in the county where the arrest or charges occurred.

Contact the Clerk’s Office: Look for the contact information for the clerk’s office of the courthouse you identified. This is usually available on the court’s website or through a general internet search.

Inquire about Procedures: Call or visit the clerk’s office to inquire about how to get a certified copy of a criminal disposition. They can tell you:

  • Required Forms: There might be a specific request form you need to fill out.
  • Acceptable Request Methods: Some courts allow requests by mail, phone, online, or in person.
  • Required Information: You’ll likely need details like the defendant’s name (as it appeared in court), date of birth, and potentially the case number.
  • Fees: There will usually be a fee associated with obtaining a certified copy.

Do not give USCIS or the State Department anything other than the certified copy of the final disposition, at least not without consulting with an attorney. There are a couple of reasons why you generally shouldn’t give police reports to immigration officials:

  • Unreliable Evidence: Police reports are written for investigations, not court. They often rely on witness statements and may not be fully verified, and prejudicial to you. They may list crimes that you were not charged for, that immigration authorities could use against you. We consider police reports as unreliable evidence in deciding someone’s immigration status.
  • Risk of Deportation: Even minor incidents can be documented in a police report. Immigration officials could use that information to start removal or deportation proceedings or deny your visa.

In some cases, a record of paying the fines, fulfilling any court obligations or programs, could be helpful to share with immigration authorities. It’s important to consult with an immigration attorney if you have questions about a specific situation. They can advise you on the best course of action.