Each year thousands of Canadians move to the US for employment and other reasons. Although many options are available to these Canadians, a US Green Card is an attractive option. It grants you permanent residence and work authorization in the US.
Benefits of a Green Card
Besides living and working in the United States, the US Green Card allows you other benefits including:
- Traveling within and out of the US
- Sponsoring relatives to get their own Green Card
- Enjoying state sponsored benefits such as education grants
- Seeking US citizenship 5 years after gaining permanent residence
Obtaining a Green Card
You may apply for a US Green Card under different categories including:
Individuals with job offers from US employers are eligible for a Green Card. You may also be eligible as an investor who would create new jobs in the US. It is also possible to petition for a Green Card if you qualify as an “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability” or certain special jobs for which the US grants special permission.
As an immediate relative of a US citizen or Green Card holder, you are eligible to request a Green Card. Intended spouses and minor children may also qualify.
As a refugee, you may apply for a Green Card 1 year after entry to the US, and 1 year after you are granted asylee status.
You may also apply through other ways such as the Green Card Lottery.
Obtaining a US Green Card With a Criminal Record
Having a criminal record can make it hard, and in some cases impossible to get a US Green Card.
Not all crimes that will make you inadmissible to Canada would prevent a person from moving to the United States. Crimes that may make you inadmissible to the United States include:
- Specified crimes: terrorism, kidnapping, human trafficking, money laundering and prostitution
- Crimes of moral turpitude: impaired driving, domestic violence, and fraud
- Controlled substance violations
Although the US Immigration and Nationality Act specifies certain crimes that may render you inadmissible, it is up to the discretion of immigration officials whether your application is approved or not. Aggravated felonies such as murder and sexual abuse are likely to result in denial.
In making their decision, immigration officers will consider several factors for which they can make exception. For instance, exception may be made for a single misdemeanour if
- The crime carries a maximum sentence of 1 year or less
- You committed the crime as a minor
- You served 6 months or less for the crime
- 5 years have passed after conviction
What Can You Do?
If you apply for a Green Card in the US, immigration officers will run a fingerprint check. Otherwise, they will request a local police certificate. Past convictions and discharges will appear on your record.
If you obtained a Record Suspension, there will be nothing on your record. However, it is important to note that American immigration law does not recognize Canadian pardons. As well, US immigration authorities keep their own database of Canadian criminal record information, so a pardon or Record Suspension will not erase your record from their database.
Apply with a Waiver
A waiver gives you the possibility of obtaining a Green Card with a record of certain crimes including prostitution, drug trafficking and other crimes of moral turpitude. A waiver may be granted if:
- 15 years have passed since the crime was committed and you can demonstrate rehabilitation
- You are the immediate family of a US citizen who would endure hardship if your application was denied
- You are an abused spouse or child of a US citizen or permanent resident
Applying with a record can be a lengthy process. It is important to consult with a law expert on your eligibility, the possibility of a waiver, and whether other solutions such as the US Entry Waiver would be a better fit.
A US immigration lawyer can advise you on applying for a Green Card. However, if you are interested in entering the US with a criminal record or obtaining a Record Suspension, contact us today to see how we can help at 1-866-972-7366.