How Should I Answer the Crime Questions

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What’s the best way to go about filling out your criminal questions on the I-45, or the N-400?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing [inaudible 00:00:12] at the United States, at our office here in St Louis, Missouri. We’ve been doing a lot of videos lately on mistakes people make when completing their forms. And one of the biggest mistakes is that they assume that, since they’ve told USCAS about something previously, that they don’t need to disclose it again.

So I had a consult last week with a nice young man named Juan, and we were talking about the questions asking him about criminal activity, about arrests, or interactions with law enforcement or detentions, or appearing in front of a judge. And it occurred to me that in many times I consult with people, they make a mistake. And the mistake that they make is that they assume that, because they included something in a prior application, that they don’t need to disclose it now.
Or, even worse, they didn’t disclose something in a prior application, and they should disclose it now. So this can be tricky. And the reason it’s tricky is because you have to be honest with USCAS, and you have to be complete. And you can’t assume that just because you told them about something once before, that they’re going to remember that or they’re going to go through the file.

And in fact, we’ve seen cases where people had disclosed something in an earlier application, perhaps at a visa interview or at a green card interview, and then didn’t disclose it in their naturalization case, and the case ultimately got denied.

So here’s the approach that you should take. You want to make sure that you disclose it as if you’ve never disclosed it before. What do I mean by that? Well, what I mean is that you’re going to need to be fully transparent to bring copies of the conviction or any interaction with law enforcement to the interview.

And you need to answer the question as if you’ve never answered it to them before. And so you can’t assume that they’re going to remember anything, and that they’re going to actually do the work to go through your file. And it’s your obligation to answer each question truthfully.

So don’t get caught in that trap, and it is just a trap. I don’t think it’s real, I don’t think people are really trying to hide things that they’ve already disclosed to USCAS. I think it’s more so that they just forget, or they think that since they already disclose it, they don’t need to disclose it again.

So obviously when you’re talking about crimes and immigration, and applying for an immigration benefit, especially one like citizenship that requires five years of good moral character, you’re probably going to want to talk to an attorney. You probably want to take some time, maybe spend a little money to make sure that you’re getting good advice, and that you filed a strongest case possible.

But obviously, of course, disclose everything to your lawyer, and then hopefully your lawyer can help guide you to file the truest and most accurate application as possible. But don’t make that mistake. Don’t not disclose things that you disclosed before just because you think you already did.

Hope this makes sense. If you like this video, give us a call, 314-961-8200. You can email us at info at hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, it’s called Immigrant Home, and if you liked this video, please connect with me on LinkedIn or subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever I make videos just like this one.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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