Can I get a fiancé visa if I have a criminal record?

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2018 | Family Immigration

You’ve been looking for love your whole life, and it’s finally happened. The real deal. The man of your dreams is in your life at last, and it’s an earth-shattering type of love you’ve never experienced before. When he asked you to marry him, to couldn’t wait to say yes. You want nothing more than to be together forever.

There’s just one problem: he lives 5,000 miles away in England. You want to bring him to the U.S. to get married and start your lives together. However, due to some stupid mistakes he made when he was younger, that’s proving to be difficult. A couple of drunken pub fights landed him assault charges in his early twenties. Although he’s since matured and paid his debt to society, U.S. immigration authorities have barred him from entering the U.S. If moving to England isn’t in the cards for you, what options do you have?

Being deemed inadmissible

U.S. immigration laws are very strict when it comes to people with criminal records. For instance, most minor crimes involving drug possession result in automatic inadmissibility. In addition, being charged with trafficking controlled substances—even if you were not convicted—can get you banned from entering the U.S. However, other offenses have a bit more leeway.

Becoming an exception to the rule

Applicants who believe they have extenuating circumstances which should earn them admission to the U.S. can file a waiver. Applicants seeking to enter the country for the purpose of getting married should file USCIS Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility—which is used for applicants seeking to enter the country as immigrants. (To submit a waiver as a non-immigrant, file form I-192.)

The likelihood of your waiver being denied is higher when you have a criminal record. Therefore, to improve your chances of being accepted, it’s important that your application demonstrate mitigating factors to counter your criminal charges. For instance, if you were arrested for assault but can show that you successfully completed a rehabilitation program, this evidence can serve as a mitigating factor and can work to your advantage.

The USCIS’s decision to accept or deny a Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility is extremely subjective. For the highest chance of acceptance, it is strongly advisable to employ an immigration attorney with deep experience in the waiver process to help you craft a strong case in your application.