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Will Immigration Consider Your Juvenile Criminal Records?

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Can My Juvenile Criminal Records Be Used to Deny My Immigration Petition?

Individuals trying to obtain U.S. citizenship often question whether their juvenile criminal records can be used to deny their immigration petition. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services checks juvenile records and various other legal records before granting an individual asylum, visa, or green card.

The United States thoroughly checks a variety of records and databases to ensure that individuals entering the country are not attempting to obtain fraudulent immigration benefits or will pose a threat to national security.

However, the USCIS does make exceptions in cases where the juvenile records have been sealed. The immigration legal process can be complicated, even for those with legal training. Therefore, if you have questions or concerns about your past juvenile criminal records, it is best that you consult with an experienced Newark immigration attorney immediately.

What is the Three Step Background Check Used by USCIS?

The USCIS uses a three-step background check to discern information about foreign nationals trying to enter the country. This three-step process involves checking databases in stages. For example, if the information gathered in the first step warrants further investigation, the second step will be initiated.

Initial Name Check

The first step in the information-gathering process of the security check involves the USCIS conducting an initial name check. During this stage, the USCIS checks information from a database of information available to multiple agencies.

At this point, if any information is discovered that justifies further examination, the investigation process will continue to the next step.

FBI Fingerprint

The second step in the USCIS security check involves fingerprinting by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Also called Biometrics, this portion of the security review involves the applicant having their fingerprints taken to be checked through the FBI database.

The FBI fingerprint check will reveal to investigators if the applicant has ever had their fingerprints taken. Any individual who has ever been arrested in the United States and fingerprinted will be disclosed in the FBI fingerprint database. However, in some instances, juveniles who have had their fingerprints taken and their records sealed may not appear.

If an applicant’s fingerprints appear in the FBI database, their criminal records will be sent to USCIS for the third and final portion of the security check.

FBI Name Check

The last portion of the security check process is the more extensive FBI name check. This third step is more extensive than the initial name check, as it is designed to track suspicious individuals whose fingerprints do not appear in any databases. The FBI name check draws names from criminal records and personnel files, applications, and investigation files kept by law enforcement agencies.

If you have questions about how USCIS conducts the three-step background check, contact our immigration lawyer in New Jersey to learn more information.

What Happens if a Juvenile Conviction Appears on My Record?

The steps USCIS takes when they find a juvenile conviction on an applicant’s record will depend on the amount of time that has passed since the conviction occurred. The USCIS looks back 5 years on juvenile convictions when considering an application. Additionally, it should be stated that a juvenile offense will remain on an individual’s record for a period of 5 years, even if that means going beyond the individual’s 18th birthday.

For example, if an individual was charged with a juvenile offense at age 16, the records will reflect it for the 5-year look-back period until the applicant is 21 years old. However, in most instances, the USCIS will not consider the juvenile offense after the 5 years have passed unless the applicant has committed another offense.

Do All Juvenile Convictions Count Against You in Immigration Proceedings?

Even though the USCIS cautiously reviews all juvenile records, this does not necessarily mean a conviction can prevent an immigration application’s approval. The USCIS accepts that applicants may make poor choices when they are considered juveniles.

For example, in cases where the juvenile committed a minor or petty offense such as shoplifting, the conviction would not count against them. In some rare cases where an offense of moral turpitude was committed, this conviction may be excused by USCIS.

The USCIS thinks juveniles should be held to a different standard than adults, as many lack the maturity to understand the long-lasting impact of their decisions. However, it should be noted that not all juvenile convictions are given a pass by USCIS, and depending on the crime and circumstances involved, it could have a negative bearing on immigration proceedings.

If you have questions about the U.S. immigration law regarding juvenile convictions, it is best to speak with a qualified attorney who can answer your questions.

A Knowledgeable Immigration Lawyer Who Can Address Your Concerns

If you or a family member are concerned about how juvenile records may affect your ability to obtain a green card or visa, you must speak to an immigration lawyer immediately. A knowledgeable lawyer can thoroughly review your case and help you understand the available legal options.

Because past juvenile records may or may not be used against you depending on the circumstances, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to help you understand the legal process of checking your background.

Our law firm has a proven record of helping clients obtain favorable results, and we would be honored to see how we can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Elsy Segovia, P.C. at (973) 313-5794 and ask to schedule an appointment with a qualified legal team member.

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