Entering the US with a Criminal Background

by sammoser on March 7, 2013

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US Immigration restricts access into the country so that people with a criminal history are not automatically eligible to enter, even as visitors. They can be sent home at the border. Computers allow every customs agent to know the details of a person’s criminal activity without making a single phone call. The rules for entering as a visitor and qualifying for a visa differ. Here is some information about the regulations and how to enter the United States if you have been denied entry to US or suspect that you will be denied entry.

Crimes of Note

The United States is especially concerned with severe crimes; the ones that make headlines and where people go to jail. These include:

  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Money laundering
  • Theft
  • Manslaughter

This does not mean drinking and driving is fine, but US Immigration takes an especially dim view of these other types of serious crimes.

How Someone Denied Entry can Still Clear Customs

There is a way to enter the country legally: by applying for a waiver. This costly document can take several months to come through. At the end of your wait, the answer might not be what you were expecting either. The several hundred dollars you spend to apply for the waiver are not refundable either.

Entering the United States with a Visa

Your entry into the US as a student or employee with a criminal record is more involved than just staying for a few days on a holiday. Since you plan to live among US citizens for an extended period of time, these same citizens have a right to know that you are considered safe.

Visa applicants for work or study must visit a US Embassy and find out what is involved at that level. There is also the rest of the visa application process to go through, a process which already requires a fair amount of paperwork and money. There is a good chance that you will be spending a tidy sum, so the issue has to be important to you.

What Makes the Process More Likely to Succeed?

Having a criminal record is already limiting in many aspects of life, but maybe all you want to do is visit Disneyland for a few days and you cannot. Maybe a trip to visit Mickey is not that big a deal in the long run, but advancing at work or school makes the issue of that criminal record more critical. Mistakes of the past could hold you back, especially if the waiver you apply for does not come through. Any mistakes made in applying for this document are not just costly in the present, but also potentially costly in the future.

An immigration lawyer cannot guarantee that you will receive a waiver allowing you entry into the United States just because he becomes involved in your case. His involvement, however, will significantly raise the chance that a person who has been denied entry before will be able to visit the United States freely in the future. Immigration lawyers understand what is required of their clients and what US Immigration is looking for.

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