Please Note: This post was published in 2015.
In 2017, if you have any civil or criminal conviction – it is NOT RECOMMENDED to travel outside the U.S.
Please Contact Us for 2017 immigration law questions.
Most lawful permanent residents (LPRs) returning to the United States from abroad do so without issue. However, if you are an lawful permanent resident, certain criminal convictions (even very old ones) can prevent your successful return to the United States.
What kind of crimes will cause me problems re-entering the United States?
As a general rule, crimes such as theft, burglary, assault/aggravated assault, fraud crimes, conspiracy crimes and drug crimes have a very high likelihood of causing you problems when returning to the United States.
Additionally, as a general rule, crimes such as DUI, public intoxication, driving without a license, driving without insurance, speeding tickets, and failure to ID will probably not cause you problems when returning to the United States.
If you are an LPR and are unsure about the consequences of a conviction, a consultation with a qualified immigration lawyer is well worth your time before you travel outside the United States. It might even save your permanent resident status!
I have a conviction but was not stopped when I re-entered the United States.
If you are an LPR but were allowed to re-enter the United States after a conviction, there could be any number of explanations. It may be that your conviction is not one which legally prevents re-entry. Another possibility is that the government was not aware of your conviction when you re-entered the country. This is more likely particularly if your last re-entry was pre-9/11. Over the last decade, information sharing between law enforcement and immigration authorities has increased dramatically. So, for example, if you became an LPR in 1990, had a conviction in 1993, then departed and returned to the United States in 2000 without issue, it is possible the government was not aware of your conviction at the time. However, because of increased information sharing as noted above, if you departed and returned to the United States today, you might be stopped upon your return even though you weren’t stopped last time.
I was stopped at the airport or border and told I have crimes, but they still let me enter the United States.
An important consideration under this circumstance is whether you were permitted to enter the United States under your normal LPR status, or whether you were “paroled” into the United States. Parole means you were allowed to physically enter the United States, but under the law you are still considered to be at the border. If you were given a white piece of paper called an I-94 marked with words like “parole,” “212(d)(5),” “240,” “removal” or “proceedings,” you should consult an immigration lawyer immediately because you were probably paroled into the United States, and an Immigration Judge will decide whether you are allowed to stay in the country.
If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident and need more information contact VERDIN Law Firm, LLC .