Under existing laws, criminal actions can be a basis for inadmissibility or removal from the United States. The potential immigration consequences make it very important for any person that is in the United States on a visa or would like to come to the United States, to stay out of trouble with the law. Even offenses that may appear minor, such as shoplifting, driving drunk and other “minor” offenses can become a very serious matter when a person tries to adjust status to a permanent resident or become a citizen. Now more than ever, USCIS pays closer attention to even minor offenses. The current immigration legislation pending in Congress even includes a provision that prevents those convicted of felonies or three misdemeanors from ever becoming legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens. Although this legislation has not yet been enacted it shows the unforgiving immigration climate, and underscores the importance of being very careful and not committing any criminal offenses, however minor they me seem. Once a person commits an offense, there are ways that an attorney can assist in minimizing the immigration consequences. The most important thing to remember is that once an offense has been committed, and the person was arrested, you cannot try to hide this arrest on any immigration forms such as the I-485 that might ask about any arrests. Concealing the truth on these forms often causes more serious problems for the applicant, than revealing the truth about one’s criminal history.
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