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Can I clean my criminal record for immigration purposes?

 Posted on July 10, 2020 in Immigration

Several criminal acts and convictions could put an immigrant in danger of being deportable. Many chose to go through a process called “expungement,” which would allow them to clean their record, essentially deleting their history of criminal convictions. If a court agrees to seal or expunge a person’s criminal record, they are considered to never have committed a crime at all. However, this is a complicated process and many times does not have the desired effect for immigration purposes.

Even if an individual’s criminal records are expunged or sealed, prior criminal convictions could still cause issues on an immigration case. Expungements and sealment of records do not prevent the government from being aware of the record for immigration purposes. The record will always exist. However, you may still want to consider going through this process for other purposes, such as finding employment.

Each case is unique and should be closely evaluated, but individuals may request to have their arrests, court supervisions, and some probation sentences deleted from their record. Each state has its own rules, but generally the petition should be filed with the court having jurisdiction and after a certain number of years have passed since the conviction.

You should consider several factors when attempting to go through this process:
  • The type of crime for which you were convicted
  • How long it has been since the conviction
  • If you were under 18 years old at the time the crime took place
  • If it is your only conviction

Now, there are certain crimes that will not be affected by an expungement, such as many serious and violent crimes or those related to drugs or firearms.

Even if an expungement does not help your case for immigration purposes, you should consult an experienced and reputable immigration attorney to evaluate your possibilities of immigration relief and minimize the risks associated with your past criminal issues.
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