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H1b's and Criminal Issue

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Will my arrest keep me from getting an H-1B visa in the United States? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, Immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

I had a consult the other day with a young man who has been charged with shoplifting. He was at his local Walmart, and when he went to checkout on Christmas Eve, he had $45 worth of merchandise in his cart that he did not run through the scanner. He went through that self-checkout.

Walmart spotted this, and he got arrested, and he's now facing criminal charges in a local Missouri County. He wanted to know is this going to affect my future claim for an H-1B? If I apply for an H-1B visa, is this going to slow me down? Now this was a tough consult.

First of all, just so everybody knows, and this is a total aside, in my office, I've heard of about 30 people have come through here over the years who have mistakenly left things in their cart.

Now, the majority of times this does actually happen at Walmart. In fact a long time ago we had a client who applied for citizenship and he was in charge of security for his local Walmart. We had a nice talk back then. Shoplifting is obviously a very real problem for retailers like Walmart, and so they keep a very sharp eye on it.

If I've heard that story in my office by clients 25 or 30 times, that means USCIS and Walmart hear that story all the time. They're not going to be too impressed by the old, I just left that in my cart routine. They've heard that before and nobody's buying it.

That's one of the dangers of going through the self-checkout, is you might be accused of shoplifting if you're not running everything through the scanner. My daughter is 10 years old and she loves to run the things through the scanner, and we of course make sure everything gets scanned.

As an aside, make sure you get everything scanned. But if you get charged with shoplifting, which he is, the question is, is this going to affect his ability to get an H-1B? Now interestingly on the I-129, which is the form where an employer sponsors an employee for an H-1B, they don't ask about criminal convictions now, and they don't do fingerprinting.

I'm surprised by this. I've always been surprised by this. Because the H-1B is so much more focused on the employer, the employer's ability to pay, the occupation and whether it's a specialty occupation and the person's educational and professional background that allows them to be qualified for this H-1B that they haven't spent a lot of time on crimes. Now this could come up later.

This would pop up later with having to get an embassy stamp.

The young man wants to definitely make sure that his shoplifting charge gets taken care of and we offered to help, but he was not going to be able to afford our services. He really wanted me to write a letter to the attorney, the criminal defense attorney, explaining why this was a serious matter for him.

But he basically wanted me to do it for free. When I refused to do that, he didn't decide to hire us. But in any event, the problem with arrest is that you can get dinged later by the embassy. In fact, for DUI charges and including some shoplifting charges, we've had people on student visas, F-1 this is typically when it happens, get a notice from the embassy that their visa has been revoked. I could see that happening for this young man he's about to apply for OPT, and it could be a problem there.

But as of right now, USCIS is not checking the criminal background through any formal process as applying through the H-1B. If you have questions about this or if you've been charged with a crime and you have presence here in the United States as a non-immigrant on maybe an F-1 visa or a J-1 or an H-1B, give us a call 3149618200. You can email us at info at Be sure to join us in our Facebook group. It's called The Immigrant Home. We share a lot of good daily and weekly immigration news in there. If you like this video, we ask that you please subscribe to our YouTube channel, and that you share it out on social. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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