Can You Visit the U.S. if You Have a Criminal Record in Another Country?

If you are trying to enter the U.S. with a criminal record, working with an experienced immigration lawyer can provide insight and guidance.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, traveling to the United States, even just for a vacation, can be difficult; the United States does not let just anyone enter its borders. Especially if you are from certain countries, such as those that are not part of the Visa Waiver Program, getting a visa to enter the United States may take months’ worth of paperwork and interviews.

To complicate matters even more, if you are attempting to enter the United States with a mark on your criminal record, your visa may be delayed or denied. Here is what you should know about visiting the U.S. if you have a criminal record in another country:

Criminal Record and U.S. Entry: What You Need to Know

If you are trying to enter the United States and you have a criminal record from another country, whether or not you will be granted permission to enter the United States will depend, in large part, on the type of crime for which you were convicted.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the United States does not generally deny entry for misdemeanor crimes, including driving under the influence (DUI) offenses. However, this is not a blanket rule; if you have been convicted of multiple DUIs or other misdemeanor offenses, you may be denied entry. Furthermore, you may also be denied entry if the conviction was recent.

The United States almost always does deny entry to those who have been convicted of any drug crimes, including a drug possession crime. However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, if you were convicted of a drug crime years ago, you may be able to obtain a waiver in order to be granted permission into the country.

Finally, the United States will also typically deny entry to any persons who have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. This general category includes crimes such as prostitution offenses, polygamy, adultery, failure to support defendants, and other unlawful acts that serve as a breach to “good moral character.” The meaning of a “crime involving moral turpitude” is a very specific, complicated issue under U.S. immigration law.

Applying for a Waiver to Enter the United States with a Criminal Record

If you are concerned that your criminal history in another country may impair your ability to enter the United States, Ozment Law, PLC, offers criminal-immigration analysis services to clients, where our attorneys will review foreign criminal records and analyze whether there is a risk of being denied based on that criminal record. Our attorneys will work with you to make an informed decision on whether to seek admission to the United States.

If you have been denied admission into the United States due to your criminal history, you may also qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility. However, this is not an easy process; the application can take up to one year to complete and process, and requires a filing fee. In addition to ensuring that the waiver application is completed in full and attached to any requested corresponding documents, you must also attach a statement that, in your own words, explains the crime of which you were convicted, the circumstances surrounding that crime and your arrest and conviction, and how you have reformed yourself since then.

Our Nashville, TN Immigration Attorneys can Help

Just because you have a criminal record does not mean that you cannot enter the United States; it just means that doing so may be more complicated. For guidance and representation throughout the process, reach out to our skilled Nashville immigration lawyers at the office of Ozment Law, PLC today for your consultation.