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Does One s Criminal History Affect One s Right to Petition for US Immigration Benefits

Those with a criminal record may be able to file for visa benefits on behalf of a foreign fiance or spouse. This piece will briefly discuss the details of how prior criminal convictions can affect a currently pending petition.

In the past, a petitioner's criminal history had little, if any, impact upon their ability to petition for US Immigration benefits. At the time of this posting, this is no longer the case as an individual's criminal history might have a substantial, and possibly detrimental, affect upon an individual's ability to file for immigration benefits on behalf of another person, particularly an alien fiance.

Under the provisions of relatively recently enacted legislation such as the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) as well as the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act those with prior criminal convictions may not be able to file a petition for a United States visa on behalf of a loved one. That being said, those who are hindered by this may be permitted to receive a waiver of this restriction from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Relatively recently the American federal government appears to have taken an increasingly "hard line" against those individuals who are perceived to be unfit to act as a petitioners.

Those persons seeking a k1 visa for an alien fiance must answer specific questions about criminal history on the I-129f petition form. Failure to answer these questions truthfully could lead to serious penalties. Thus, those who wish to submit a petition for American Immigration privileges would be prudent to note that candor is required. That said, those with a criminal record who are thinking of filing for American visa benefits may find assistance of counsel advantageous because an attorney experienced in Immigration matters can provide insights that the prospective petitioner may not be aware of. The National Visa Center (NVC) as well as USCIS are required to conduct clearances in relation to visa petitions and applications. USCIS often conducts criminal background checks on visa petitioners while the NVC is generally tasked with conducting security clearances on potential immigrants. If a previous criminal conviction exists on the record of either the petitioner or beneficiary, then it is highly likely that either USCIS or NVC will discover it.

It is never a wise course of action to lie to the United States government. That being said, some information about one's criminal history may not be relevant for Immigration purposes while information that may not seem material at first blush might actually require disclosure. As stated previously, assistance from a licensed lawyer from the USA may be an advantage for many who are worried about past infractions disrupting the processing of a pending visa petition.

About Author Ben Hart :

Benjamin W. Hart is an American lawyer and the Managing Director of Integrity Legal (Thailand) Co. Ltd. He also acts as the International Director of White & Hart Ltd. To contact please call: 1-877-231-7533 (US Toll Free), +66 (0)2-266-3698 (Thailand), +44 203-002-3837 (UK), or see more on the world wide web at: or

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Article Added on Saturday, September 18, 2010
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