Can You Get Permanent Residency With A Criminal Record?

By Published On: April 17, 2023Categories: Vlog, Adjustment Of Status, Immigration

Suppose you carry a significant criminal record or have been incarcerated and have a goal of permanent residency. You must know that such circumstances might impact your desired immigration status within the United States. In this instance, don’t hesitate to contact your immigration lawyer for guidance and clarification.

This article will answer the question, “Can I get permanent residency if I committed a crime?” Also, it will discuss how a criminal record can affect your permanent residency application.

Read More Here About How You Can Obtain U.S. Permanent Residency If You Have A U.S. Criminal Record

Can You Obtain Permanent Residency If You Committed A Crime?

Committing a crime is an intriguing subject that can impact your immigration status. Certain criminal records can lead to inadmissibility in the United States. They can render you ineligible for a visa or status adjustment. Moreover, specific immigration benefits, including citizenship, have criteria that criminal records can influence.

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) data estimates around 10% of noncitizen immigrants in the United States hold criminal records. Notably, many immigrants with such records have committed minor offenses. They include traffic violations or immigration-related infractions rather than serious crimes.

The truth is that when it comes to crimes and immigration, things can get very complicated. Your immigration lawyer needs information when you start the process. They need court and police documents to ensure that there won’t be any prejudice due to your criminal record.

It depends on the process, specific crimes, and punishments received to determine whether it will affect you. It’s not a simple yes or no. Your lawyer must evaluate it carefully and ensure it’s safe to proceed. Therefore, having a criminal record can make your case difficult but not impossible.

Remember that your lawyer’s mission is to help you find a solution and start anew. It begins with an informed decision where you can discern what to do and what not to do. This way, you can choose the best option with the help of your immigration lawyer. They are capable and give you an accurate assessment of your opinions and possibilities.

What Will Happen If You Have A Criminal Record?

Obtaining legal permanent residency or becoming a U.S. citizen despite a criminal record depends on the situation. However, you must seek advice from an attorney with experience in immigration and criminal law before proceeding. Immigration law doesn’t always make sense regarding which crimes affect you and which don’t.

Sometimes, clients say they don’t understand why a minor offense, which seems like nothing, affects them. However, something more serious does not affect them at all. That’s how immigration laws work. So, you must speak with an attorney before starting your residency journey. They can direct and keep you on the right path.

Consider those accused of robbery, DUI, or DUI-related fatalities. Why is it urgent to hire an immigration lawyer when they already have a criminal attorney? A criminal attorney handles charges and court defense. An immigration lawyer focuses on immigration impact and strategy.

Which Criminal Records Could Potentially Make Someone Ineligible?

Three primary categories of criminal records can make you ineligible to apply for residency:

  • Crimes against public morals.
  • Crimes against individuals, including rape, assault, and murder.
  • Offenses connected to narcotics, which immigration authorities treat with the utmost severity.

Exceptions to the absence of waivers for narcotics-related offenses exist, primarily for minor quantities of marijuana. Waivers are available for other transgressions, depending on the specific nature of the crime and the corresponding sentence or penalty. Thus, the particulars of each case differ according to the individual involved.

The outcome depends upon the individual’s circumstances. For example, certain crimes could render someone ineligible for obtaining residency or the desired visa. However, if an individual is a lawful permanent resident, the types of offenses that might lead to deportation differ. It is acknowledged that long-standing residents have established roots over the years. Consequently, for deportation to be contemplated, the transgression would need to be of a significant graver nature.

Only specific offenses with extended sentences or other extenuating factors could potentially trigger the deportation of a lawful permanent resident. This criterion varies according to one’s legal status. But not every infraction can lead to the removal of a lawful permanent resident.

Does Using Marijuana Affect The Process Of Residency?

A man, married to a lawful permanent resident, living in Austin, Texas, works at a restaurant and has a good relationship with coworkers. On a particular day, while socializing with them, they invited them to partake in a marijuana joint. Although never one to indulge in marijuana, the guy was with them.

While positioned discreetly at the restaurant’s rear, a patrol car arrived. The law enforcement officers communicated that smoking was prohibited in that area. However, upon noticing a bag of marijuana near the man, despite non-use, they opted to detain him on possession grounds.

He was subsequently transported to the police station. Upon the spouse’s arrival to secure the release, the man was discharged after settling a fine. Will this situation affect his permanent residency process? The wife was concerned and feared this may result in deportation.

It depends on immigration regulations, wherein the possession of narcotics, notably marijuana, can exert an influence. However, marijuana possession involves nuanced considerations. Possessing marijuana, whether leading to arrest or not, may render someone ineligible for a visa or residency unless the quantity is under 30 grams.

An additional point to highlight is the divergence between state-level marijuana legality and federal immigration law within the United States. Despite marijuana being legal in certain states, federal immigration laws hold sway. Thus, even if you reside in a state permitting marijuana use,  its usage could pose an immigration challenge unless a waiver qualification is met.

Why Do You Need Two Attorneys At The Same Time?

A criminal attorney will advise non-U.S. citizens about the potential consequences of a conviction here in the United States. So, the attorney representing you in the criminal case must provide advice on what will happen if you plead guilty to the offense. It includes the possibility of deportation, losing your status, or being detained.

An Immigration Lawyer Will Support You In The Permanent Residency Process If You Have Had A Criminal Record In The Past

At times, legal professionals in criminal law may lack comprehensive knowledge of immigration law intricacies. They are dedicated to ensuring you receive appropriate counsel for your criminal case. Collaborative efforts between these attorneys are prevalent, fostering mutual understanding of the ongoing proceedings.

Immigration attorneys are ready to extend guidance to clients and offer recommendations to their criminal attorneys. Also, they can apprise them, and if a criminal attorney already represents them, they’re available to assist. It isn’t a practice universally adopted by all immigration attorneys.

Not all immigration attorneys possess insight into criminal complexities, and not all collaborate with criminal attorneys to deliver immigration-related counsel. However, some establish communication or cooperation with other entities. It allows them to asses individuals who could face potential repercussions due to their criminal past or pending charges.

This reaffirms the distinguishing attributes of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. So, if you were still deliberating and comparing options, you now have a clear perspective. Remember, you’re in trustworthy hands with this law firm by your side.

Why Consult With An Immigration Attorney?

Maintain your optimism and seek counsel. Take this example, a case that underscores the importance of hope. A previous attorney advised a client that there were no avenues to pursue due to a robbery charge. Over the years, the client resigned to a bleak outlook, believing the situation was impossible.

Upon approaching a team of immigration attorneys at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, they took up this client’s cause vigorously. Despite a past robbery offense, a youthful mistake, they championed the man’s case. Against prevailing expectations, the client ultimately secured residency, a triumph thought unattainable by others.

This story highlights the significance of seeking legal guidance, as opportunities to fight may emerge when least expected. So contact Lincoln-Goldfinch Law; its immigration attorneys are here to help. They can provide you hope in an otherwise stark situation. They will give you a guiding hand and unwavering support.


Past criminal records or incarcerations can influence immigration status. Thus, seeking advice from an immigration lawyer is crucial. They will help you explore the correlation between crimes and immigration status, addressing eligibility for permanent residency despite criminal history.

Certain criminal records may render applicants ineligible for residency, particularly crimes against public morals, individuals, or narcotics-related offenses. However, not all infractions lead to deportation for lawful permanent residents. Seek an immigration attorney’s counsel for accurate evaluation and support, as demonstrated through success stories.

If you have additional questions about your criminal records, or your specific case, you can contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on FacebookYouTube, and Twitch.

About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as green cards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job.

Share this story!

Contact a U.S. Immigration Attorney Today!

    How To Find Us

    Austin Office
    Lincoln-Goldfinch Law

    1005 E 40th St
    Austin, TX 78751

    Waco Office

    Lincoln-Goldfinch Law

    1616 Austin Avenue, Suite A
    Waco, TX 76701
    By Appointment Only

    Austin & Waco
    Call or Text: (855) 502-0555
    Fax: (512) 323-9351

    What Our Clients Say

    “This Lawfirm is great, very professional and helpful. I love that they are always in communication and always available for when you have questions . 100% recommended by me and my family. Thank you Lincoln-Goldfinch Law”