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Arrests and Immigration

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Does having an arrest in my past make my immigration case more complicated?

Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
When I started practicing immigration law, officers would spend a little bit of time on arrests, but if the case got disposed of in a quick manner and nothing really happened with it, then the officers were generally satisfied with the answers given by the person seeking an immigration benefit.

That is not the case these days. These days, if you have any kind of an arrest, any kind of interaction with law enforcement, even traffic tickets, but for now in this video we're talking about arrests. If you have an arrest, then your case is going to a supervisor for review. So my general understanding, at least in the field offices that I've been to is, that if there's an arrest, that a low level immigration officer cannot approve your case on his own or her own. They have to get supervisor review, and that is problematic for a couple of reasons.

Number one, that it's going to slow down your case. You're not going to get a same day approval or a same week approval. It's going to go sit on somebody's desk for a while until the officer has time to go through the case with the supervisor and explain the circumstances of the arrest. In addition, if you have an arrest, that's going to slow down your case in another way.

A lot of times people show up to their interviews without the arrest records and now, more and more, we're seeing USCIS actually ask for the arrest records, so that's going to be a real problem for you.

So my suggestion is get the arrest records before you go to the interview. Don't necessarily submit them with your application, but have them at the interview itself. And if the officer asks for the arrest records, then you have them right there. They should be certified, which means that the clerk for the police department has certified and sealed them and you can just hand those over to the police officer.

Now if you have bad things in your rest records, you're probably going to want to talk to a lawyer before you either file for the immigration application or go to the interview or submit those records. So you really need to think it through. You really need to be smart, but at the end of the day, having an arrest does make your case a lot more complicated. It's going to slow your case down, and your best bet is to be able to talk about it articulately. Talk about it in a way that is honest and forthright and thorough, but you don't want to just show up without the records and slow down your case even more.

So if you need help with prior arrests or tracking down criminal records or applying for an immigration benefit with an arrest, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected] Be sure to join us in our Facebook group. It's called Immigrant Home. We'd love to have you in there. We share good immigration information in there every day and there are good discussions in there. People ask questions and people pop in and I try to answer when I can. And then if you like this video, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we shoot videos just like this one. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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