Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Immigration Corner | Will criminal record affect filing?

Published:Tuesday | March 14, 2017 | 3:03 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My daughter will be getting married soon. Her husband-to-be has a criminal record. He did his time and is also on two years' probation. Can that affect her filing? He is a US citizen.

- R.F.

Dear R.F.,

All marriage petitions for a US green card are viewed as suspicious and the burden is on the couple to prove the bona fides of their marriage. This is so whether the couple is adjusting status in the US or one party is outside the US and the filing will be consular processed through the National Visa Center.

If the couple resides in the States, they have to prove that they are commingling their assets and their debts and that they are familiar with each other during an in-person interview at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If one party lives in another country and will go to their US embassy for an interview, the beneficiary will have to prove that they have communicated with each other, that they have seen each other and that they are familiar with each other. In extreme cases, the US consular office can request the petitioner to come to the foreign country and be interviewed in person. Documentary evidence is important in both instances.

 

STRICTLY SCRUTINISED

 

Unfortunately, when the petitioner has a criminal record, his or her truthfulness is even more strictly scrutinised. Whether USCIS or the State Department will acknowledge this fact is neither here nor there, because the reality is that those petitions are flagged. The idea is that if the petitioner committed a crime, he or she is more likely to not be truthful in a green card application. This means that a couple, where the petitioner has a criminal record, has to check, double-check and triple-check their file to ensure that everything is explainable. Nothing should be hidden. USCIS can contact the petitioner's probation officer to ensure that the officer knows that the probationer is married and that the officer is aware of everything that has been declared by the petitioner. In these cases, the couple can also expect to be separated during an adjustment interview and the probability of a petitioner interview increases.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com