Effects of An Exonerated Criminal Conviction On An Immigration Application

An exonerated crime should have no effect on you once you have become a lawful permanent resident. However, an illegal status could prevent you from obtaining a visa or any other immigration benefit. In other words, if you have already gotten a U.S. green card and committed a crime, getting a pardon will save you from getting deported. Regardless of your status, it is advised to seek legal advice from an immigration lawyer.

The same does not apply to non-residents of the U.S. Regardless, of having been pardoned for a crime, under U.S. immigration laws, a foreigner would likely be found inadmissible (ineligible for any type of U.S. visa, whether nonimmigrant or immigrant. Therefore, before you are granted authorization to enter the U.S. you will need to overcome any criminal (or other) grounds of inadmissibility most likely by obtaining a waiver (similar to a pardon) from the U.S. government. Visit your nearest immigration attorney if you have any questions about a waiver and how much an exoneration affects a waiver or visa application.

Filing a Nonimmigrant (Temporary) Visa Waiver After a Criminal Pardon Has Been Granted

When submitting a temporary visa after a criminal conviction and pardon, you cannot simply fail to mention the crime. Instead, you will need to petition for a nonimmigrant visa waiver directly from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy that will process your application. There is no form stipulated for this procedure.

After having filed your application, an interview will be scheduled at the designated U.S. Consulate in your home country. After the interview, the consular officer assigned to your case will make a decision on whether or not you deserve a visa based on the factual evidence and the answers you provided at the interview and your current situation as a whole. Such decision is within the discretion of the Consul and it will involve consideration of several factors including:

  • The nature of the crime for which you were pardoned for
  • The reason you are applying for the visa
  • Any effects issuing you a visa might have on the interests of the U.S. public and
  • Any existing negative factors other than the crime.

After having reviewed all the factors and considering the crime itself, the consular officer will make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of Homeland (DHS). If the officers think that issuing a visa is not in the best interest of the U.S. the application will be denied.

Applying for a Waiver If You Are The Beneficiary of a Nonimmigrant Visa

If you have been exonerated for a crime in your home country and even though you might be the holder of a valid U.S. visa that does not mean that you can enter any port of entry as you please. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also checks for inadmissibility. You can, however, separately apply for a waiver using USCIS Form I-912, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

Submitting An Immigrant Visa Waiver of Inadmissibility

Foreigners who have been pardoned for a crime overseas and are seeking to apply for a visa to live in the U.S. permanently (in other words a green card), would need to request a waiver of inadmissibility by filing a Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Any person who resides overseas will need to apply with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad. Any foreigner that lives in the U.S. who has applied for a U.S. green card through the process known as an adjustment of status, will file the form with USCIS. Talk to your nearest immigration attorney before attempting to apply for any U.S. visa application.

Petitioning for an Immigrant Visa Waiver Based on a Qualifying Relative

Another opportunity for applying for a waiver is through a qualifying relative who would suffer extreme hardship if you were denied a visa. A qualifying relative can be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident in the U.S. who can be a:

  • Spouse
  • Parent or
  • Fiancé(e)

Without a qualifying relative, an applicant will not be eligible for a waiver.

Time to Talk With An Immigration Attorney

If you are uncertain about the effects an exoneration of a crime might have on your U.S. visa application it is advised to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer. Gambacorta Law Office is one call away. Call us at 847 443 9303 to schedule an appointment today.