What if my petitioner gets arrested? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at of our offices in St. Louis, Missouri and San Diego, California. In today’s video, we’re answering question from Dar, Dar has a pending adjustment of status application and Dar’s spouse got arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. And so, this brings up a question that comes up a lot. Obviously, USCIS is very, very concerned with any criminal behavior or criminal convictions on the part of the beneficiary. They’re trying to determine whether or not to allow a foreign national to obtain lawful permanent resident status, which of course is just one step below citizenship. So it’s a really big deal. And with certain crimes, you can be inadmissible to the United States. That is if the beneficiary is convicted of any crimes, but in this video, we’re talking about crimes of the petitioner.
So sometimes the petitioner will have a DUI or they’ll have a DUI ahead of time and I wanted to shoot this video to just talk through my thoughts on the crimes of the petitioner. Now, generally I’d say on a big picture basis, usually USCIS is not that concerned with any crimes by the petitioner, a DUI, especially a simple DUI where no one is hurt or killed or anything. And it sounds like in Dar’s case it’s the first time offense, that’s not going to keep the beneficiary from getting an immigration benefit. Now, there are some crimes that do make it harder or even impossible for the beneficiary to get a benefit, and I’m talking about crimes by the petitioner. So because of the Adam Walsh Act, if there’s been any kind of child abuse or sexual abuse of a minor by the petitioner, the beneficiary’s not going to be able to get a green card.
The US citizen petitioner is barred from getting that approved. And so that was part of legislation that passed, I think, in the late 90s, early 2000s in response to a kidnapping and it made it much harder for immigrants to get a benefit when they’re married to someone with those kinds of convictions. This often comes up in our cases when an application is filed, and then we get a notice that the petitioner is supposed to come down and get fingerprinted. And usually that’s because they’re checking out the petitioner. And usually it’s because there’s some kind of sex crime on the part of the petitioner. And so, I think USCIS in their thought process in the Congress, in the legislation, were thinking that they would protect the foreign national from being placed into an unsafe scenario with a convicted sex offender or a child abuser and so that’s one scenario.
The other scenario is when you have a fiance case, an overseas fiance case. USCIS and I think in overseas I-130, because of the Violence Against Women Act , if the petitioner has convictions for abuse that too can cause problems both for an immigrant visa or for a green card for the beneficiary. So generally, on a simple thing like this, obviously a DUI is not a good thing, but that’s not going to keep the petitioner from being able to sponsor the beneficiary for a green card. It’s not going to make the beneficiary in any way inadmissible. But here’s what I would say, if the petitioner has a complicated criminal history, I think it would be helpful to talk to an immigration lawyer. The other thing is, is that sometimes USCIS thinks, “Well, if this person’s a criminal, the petitioner, maybe they’re engaged in another crime now, like immigration fraud,” especially if they’ve been convicted of things involving theft or fraud that can come into a play at the interview where USCIS is wondering, “Well, is this a legit marriage?”
So certain crimes, not the violent crimes or the child abuse crimes that I was talking about earlier, but certain crimes involving fraud, or mistrust, or stealing, or those kinds of things or things that might demonstrate that the petitioner is desperate to have a US citizen spouse or a green card holding spouse so that they can support them or pay them off. These are all the kinds of scenarios where it might come into play, but generally something like a simple DUI. I know that’s a very long answer. Something like a simple DUI is not going to keep the beneficiary from being found inadmissible to the United States. So hopefully that answers your question and you can get moving on your case. If you have questions about this, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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