Should You Tell Immigration About Your Dismissed Criminal Case?

As immigration lawyers, we help people get green cards, citizenship through naturalization, work visas, and other immigration benefits. Some of our clients have made mistakes in the past and have a criminal history.

Here's a line of questions that we sometimes hear from our immigration clients:

"My criminal case was a minor offense. And the case was dismissed. It happened a long time ago back in my home country. Getting the records from the case will nearly be impossible. Besides, Immigration will likely never know about this case because it's "off my record.” So can't we just not tell Immigration about the criminal case?"

If you’ve had a criminal case and you say no to the question about your criminal history, then you've lied; in fact, you’ve committed fraud. And now your only chance to get approved is to hope that Immigration doesn't catch you.

Lying to hide your criminal case from Immigration is unethical. I have no interest in helping you break bad. No decent immigration lawyer would help do this.

Lying is also a dumb legal strategy. USCIS and Consulates will conduct extensive background checks on you. And if you lie, they will likely catch you. When they find out that you’ve lied, your immigration case will crash and burn. I see this all the time as an immigration lawyer.

Sure, you might get away with lying on your immigration forms to hide your criminal case. But why take such an unnecessary risk? Lying is unethical and will likely backfire. You're smarter than that. And you're better than that, I hope.

Even if you get approved, fraud will taint your green card, citizenship, or visa forever. Visas obtained through lies can be revoked. Commit fraud at your green card interview and you could wind up in deportation proceedings. Lie at your naturalization application and you might face denaturalization even decades later.

The good news is that there's a better and easier strategy: disclose the criminal case and track down the court records. That's all you need to do. And if you can't locate the necessary documentation, we can help you. We're immigration lawyers. This is what we do. And we're good at it.

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