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Immigration ti US with minor criminal record

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  • Immigration ti US with minor criminal record

    I am a U.K citizen with an American Wife, I have been married to my wife for nearly three years (we were married in the U.K). We also have a daughter (7 months old) who was born in the U.S. My problem is that when I was young I was a bit of a tearaway and have a criminal record, all minor (misdemeanours) and all more than ten years ago. But, on my first visits to the U.S over 5 years ago, as I was going there on business for my company I did not want to get turned away on arrival, so I did not fill out my visa waiver form as I should have done. I would like to know now what chance I have of adjusting my status to be able to stay in the States if I wish. I am in no hurry to do this but with the changes in the rules that are happening at the moment I may be forced into this.
    I do not work in the States (I am an engineer and work overseas)but I own a house there, I pay my taxes on the property, have never overstayed my 90 day visa waiver even though I have been in and out of the States many times over the last 5 years and have never been in any trouble of any kind in the States (or anywhere else for that matter for 10 years).
    I am sure my Wife would move anywhere with me if I was refused a visa but I know she likes living where she is and I would not like to be moved forcibly.
    Can anybody advise me on a course of action??

  • #2
    It all depends on the nature of the crimes and at what age.
    - Some will be forgiven if it was before 18. Others can not be forgiven by law like drug convictions.
    - More than 2 legal convictions can establish a good moral character issue.
    - There is no statute of limitation in U.S. immigration law for aliens so the 10 yrs. or 20 or 50 don't really matter.
    - When you entered the U.S. with a VW while married to a U.S. citizen, that can be a big problem next time around.

    What you need to do is find out exactly what your legal problems are and what their equavalence in U.S. laws are and what exactly they constitute. Are they really a conviction? Are they inadmissiable crimes etc.. If so, are there waivers available; most likely, but again you got to research or consult a good U.S. immigration law.

    U.S. crimnal laws are punished a lot harsher than European ones. Your questions are too general to answer it in any other fashion. Good luck!


    • #3
      Most were when I was under 16 years of age, shoplifting etc. Two when I was under 21 for possesion of pot and a third for overclaiming of benefits (but this was admonished on payback of the money, a small amount). Not very clever but unfortunately it is the age old adage, in with the wrong crowd.
      I am almost certain all are misdemeanours in the States but I am not that up on your law.

      And your comments on "good moral character" although well taken must have some kind of time limit on them, do I have to not even have a parking ticket for 50 years before I am deemed to be of good moral character again? So much for rehabilitation.

      There have been instances where people have had drug convictions IN the States and still been granted visas, most famously John Lennon and Paul McCartney (and other actors and pop stars) or is this just because they can buy their way in?

      As previously mentioned I would only try to get this visa if backed into a corner ( I have no intention of trying to work in the States) and it was my only way of coming into the States, I am sure my In laws would still love to see their grandaughter and my Wife her parents and siblings.

      Is it too late now to be honest about my convictions on my I94 or have I burnt that bridge??

      My final gripe/question is, why do we have to declare any offenses to come into the States when no such requirement is necessary on a USC to enter my country, I thought all of this was supposed to be equal. Seems a bit one sided to me.


      • #4
        I don't know all the answers to your questions. In regard to the equalitarian; ask your royals, they're the closest relatives of our head of administration... and yes, many countries have restrictions on entrance, Japan for instance doesn't allow anyone in who is infected with the AIDS virus.

        Two substance convictions are a tough case. Most of the people who were convicted for substance abuses here in the states and gained legal residency here, were one time offenders who could take advantage of the federal first offender rehab cap. I think it was less than an American ounce there you can prove it was for own use AND that you're completly rehabilitated now, you may be able to obtain a waiver.

        The good moral character issue is in regard to 2 seperate convictions, which you may or may not be eligable for (1 substance + 1 overclaimed benefit, find out what the equavalent of that would be here, fraud perhaps?).

        a) an adult convicted of two crimes (certain misdemeanors included) is considered permanently not to be able to establish good moral character (exceptions and waivers available).
        b) In the U.S., for criminal prosecution a person is an adult at the age of 18 (not 21 as in most European courts). For very heinous and intentional crimes a minor may be deemed an adult for punishment purposes...

        As a rule of thumb; if the possible punishment for these convictions are 180 days or more, consider this pretty much a complicated case. It doesn't matter what the local protocol in your native country is, what counts is what the equvalent punishment here is.

        Not having mentioned these problems previously is not something that could be used against you, since they may be for your local law purposes "expunged".

        Your case is too complicated. If you need to work seriously on your ability to visit or live legally in the U.S. you should get a good immigration law who is also experienced in criminal law!


        • #5

          Thanks for your comments, I take it you are in the legal proffession (in some way) or have experienced this before.
          I have spent a lot of time in the States over the last five years and although I like some things about the place, others I just can not come to terms with, mostly your treatment of the old, poor and irretrievably evil people like myself (due to my heinous crimes according to American law).
          Your legal system as you probably know is based on ours (loosely) as is your system of government. Yet america bills itself as the land of the free and everything that is good IS America. This is only the case as long as you have money.
          I would take on a lawyer and indeed have contacted one previously about this matter. Unfortunately, even though he was refered as supposedly the best lawyer in my state at this, all he was interested in was how much money he could leach out of me.
          Although I understand that my case is a lttle bit complicated I refuse to believe that it is so complicated that it warranted the $6000 to $10000 he wanted to take it on (and according to hime it could go up from there if it got "more complicated").
          Also understand that I am not a poor man but I do not condone greed and this to me was a case of pure greed, taking advantage of the desperate, or so he thought, until I told him I wasn't interested.
          My only reason for doing this would be for my wife, she likes the States, in fact had never even left the place in her whole life before she met me (34 years but she has been to Europe and other places many times since), but, recently she surprised me with a comment and I will quote because it surprised me, she said, "we are taught to believe that the USA is the best in the world, have the best everything and are right but now I have seen other places I know this is not true, I feel like I have been lied to", I think that says it all.

          Ah well I may look into this further but if not a villa in the South of France or Southern Spain sounds nice.

          And just for the record, the amounts for the "substances" were less than $5 per time


          • #6
            I have just read the description for the I94 Visa Waiver program. This describes the relevant offences that exclude you from coming to the US. As far as I can see exceptions are granted for my offences especially as they were over 13 years ago for the two substance offences, is this correct?


            • #7
              I'm not sure Brit, it all depends on the amount of substance involved and possible maximum punishment in the U.S. In addition to the substance amount a possible sentence of 180 days or even 365 days complicates matters to say the least!

              Very minor substance convictions from before 1987-89 should be pretty irrelavant, but earlier you said it was "just" 10 yrs. ago, which would put it around the early 90's (??). Your case is too complicated to be resolved on a forum. Also, consider that different standards exists for AOS'ing and just visiting the U.S. on a VW. As the spouse and father of a U.S. citizen, you should enter the U.S. with the proper paperwork. Consult an attorney! Good luck!


              • #8

                Both of the substance offences were within a year of each other 1990-1991, both were for extremely small amounts less than $10 worth, 1-2 grams of pot and I may add only due to a party being held at my shared residence (college), amazing what people will drop on the floor when the police walk in isn't it and not saying that I was completely innocent of doing it myself either at the time.
                The reason I say ten years ago, that was the last offence, the overclaiming of benefit (which I was admonished of), that was 1994.

                What makes this even harder to deal with, is the fact that these offences (substance possesion) would not even show on my record in the U.K in this day and age, due to the small amounts, a caution is normally issued and you are not branded as a career criminal for the rest of your life.

                The current legislation is that this will come of my record when I am 70 years og age, completely rediculous considering the gravity of the charges. I have even written to the U.K government requesting that these be removed now that their policy has changed, you can imagine the answer I got.

                Anyway, thanks for your comments, guess if it comes right down to it I will just have to bite the bullet and pay some more money to Uncle Sam's coffers in the shape of a leaches fee's


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