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Inadmissibility Due To Criminal Convictions: How A Waiver Could Help You

Foreign nationals with certain criminal convictions may be inadmissible and ineligible for permanent residency in the United States. A single conviction could also result in someone losing his or her status in the U.S. There is a waiver available for certain convictions to individuals who qualify. Wilson Law Group encourages anyone with such a charge or conviction to contact our office to find out if a waiver is available or, if so, if you qualify for the waiver.

Which Criminal Convictions Can Result In A Finding of Inadmissibility?

With some limited exceptions, criminal convictions that generally result in a determination that a foreign national is ineligible to the United States include:

  • A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).  A crime of moral turpitude is a criminal act that is considered “evil, vile, and baseless.”  Examples generally include theft, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault offenses.  There are certain limited exceptions.  Contact Wilson Law Group to ascertain if one of the exceptions applies to your situation.
  • Most controlled substance offenses, including marijuana.
  • Multiple criminal convictions.  A foreign national convicted of 2 or more offenses (regardless of whether arose from a single scheme of misconduct) if the aggregate of sentences to confinement actually imposed was 5 years or more.  Again, a waiver is available to qualifying persons.
  • Prostitution.

What Constitutes A ‘Conviction’ For Immigration Purposes?

Under the Immigration & Nationality Act (INA or Act), a “conviction” means a formal judgment or plea of guilt or admission of sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt and some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the foreign national’s liberty was ordered by the judge.

Some grounds of inadmissibility may apply even where there has been no “conviction,” such as reason to believe a foreign national is a trafficker in controlled substances.

Which Criminal Convictions Can Be Waived?

The INA provides a waiver of the following in section 212(h) of the Act:

  • One or more crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT)
  • Multiple criminal convictions
  • Controlled substance violation, only if it involved a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • Prostitution and commercialized vice

Section 212(h) allows for a waiver of the relevant grounds in the following circumstances:

  • Rehabilitation Waiver: This waiver is available for individuals inadmissible for prostitution or the activities for which the individual is inadmissible occurred more than 15 years before the application for admission.
    • The applicant must demonstrate that he or she has been rehabilitated and that his or her admission would not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States.
  • Extreme Hardship Waiver: This waiver is available for individuals inadmissible under one of the waivable grounds who has a qualifying relative who would suffer extreme hardship if the applicant is not allowed admission into the U.S.
    • Who can be a qualifying relative?
      • A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent or child.
    • What constitutes extreme hardship?
      • There is no precise definition of extreme hardship, although the Board of Immigration Appeals has stated that it includes (but is not limited to) the following:
        • The presence of permanent resident or U.S. citizen family ties to the U.S.; the qualifying relative’s family ties outside the U.S.; the conditions in the country to which the qualifying relative would relocate and the extent of the qualifying relative’s ties to such country; financial impact of departure from the U.S.; and conditions of health.

Consult An Immigration Lawyer Today

Our attorneys offer free initial consultations. To schedule your free appointment, reach out using our online form. You can also call our office directly at 612-430-8022.