Many times individuals assume that since many years have passed since their last serious encounter with the law that they do not need a waiver. This is simply NOT true. In fact, even if it has been a long time since your last conviction, if you require a waiver your greencard could be denied and, even worse, you could be placed in removal proceedings. However, if at least 15 years have passed since the conviction at issue, it is easier to obtain a waiver.
It you are convicted of a crime or crimes which require waiver and you apply before fifteen years have elapsed, we must prove on your behalf that your qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative (spouse, child, or parent) would experience extreme hardship if your case was denied. We have extensive experience handling cases meeting this threshold from both our San Francisco and Sacramento offices. If, however, fifteen years have elapsed since your conviction, we will not need to prove “extreme hardship,” instead, we only have to prove that you have been rehabilitated, and that approval will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S. It is generally easier to prove rehabilitation instead of extreme hardship.
Remember that although you may have been convicted of a petty crime in the last fifteen years you can still prove just rehabilitation instead of extreme hardship if the crime you are seeking a waiver resulted in a conviction at least fifteen years ago. For example, lets say you were convicted of burglary fifteen years ago and since then you’ve been convicted of a DUI. You can still seek a waiver proving just rehabilitation instead of extreme hardship because the conviction for which you are seeking a waiver, the burglary, occurred fifteen years ago. This example is taken from the actual case of Miguel (name changed to protect privacy), worked on by a member of Ranchod Law. Miguel came in on a student visa but violated the terms of his visa by working without permission (authorization). His family needed money in his native country. Miguel was arrested for stealing tools from a home and pled “nolo contendere” (no contest) to burglary. He served probation. After many years out of status, he met and married a U.S. Citizen. Even though fifteen years had past since his conviction for the burglary, Miguel needed and successfully obtained a waiver and his greencard. Even though Miguel had been convicted of a DUI in the fifteen years since his conviction for burglary, he was able to prove just rehabilitation and not extreme hardship. Miguel no longer has to live in fear of being illegal. For more information about DUI and other petty crimes please refer to our previous post on that topic.
We can build your case by showing that you have not had any serious trouble with the law recently, that you are contributing to society (by working, educating yourself, or by volunteering or community service), and that you have ties to society, via your family and community (friends, coworkers, neighbors, religious organization, etc.) Because no two cases are exactly alike and because we have extensive experience with a variety of cases, we encourage you to contact our office to discuss your need for a waiver and the possible strengths we could highlight in your case.