Can I apply for a U.S. visa if I have a criminal record?


Obtaining a visa for temporarily visiting or permanently living in the United States is difficult. However, it can be even more challenging if you have a criminal record in your country of origin. In most cases, having a criminal record will result in ineligibility for receiving a U.S. visa. However, despite your criminal ineligibility, under certain circumstances, you may still be able to receive a nonimmigrant or immigrant U.S. visa if you qualify for a waiver. If you want to apply for a U.S. visa but are worried that your criminal record will prevent you from meeting eligibility requirements, it is in your best interest to contact an adept New Jersey Immigration Lawyer who can help you determine whether you may qualify for a waiver. 

How can I obtain a U.S. visa if I have a criminal record?

If you are ineligible to obtain a U.S. nonimmigrant visa due to committing a crime in another country, you may be able to receive a waiver that authorizes you to get a temporary visa to enter the U.S. However, whether your foreign crime can be waived is at the discretion of the U.S. embassy or consultant officers responsible for overseeing your case. The consular officer will need to be convinced that you will not only return to your home country after your authorized period of stay has expired but that you will also abide by U.S. laws while in the U.S. Admittedly, it can be a challenging undertaking as some officers may have concerns about your ability to comply with U.S. laws during your stay as you have broken laws in the past. The consular officer will also take the seriousness of the criminal offense and the purpose of your travel into consideration before determining where they should recommend and request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to authorize issuing a temporary nonimmigrant visa. Nevertheless, if they are convinced, it is imperative to note that it can take several months for your waiver to be approved.

The process for obtaining an immigrant visa is much more difficult as you are looking to receive the right to reside permanently in the U.S. Therefore, if you are ineligible to obtain an immigrant visa due to a criminal record, the requirements for receiving a waiver are much more complex. Depending on the seriousness of your criminal offense, a consular officer will tell you which section of the law makes you ineligible and whether it is even possible to receive a waiver. It is critical to note that waivers are not available for drug possession crimes. If the consular officer deems it possible, your attorney can help you request a waiver through Form I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Ultimately, despite criminal ineligibility for applying for a U.S. visa, you may receive a nonimmigrant or immigrant U.S. visa if you qualify for a waiver. However, the process can be challenging. As such, it is advisable to retain the legal services of a seasoned lawyer from the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC today.

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