Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Ask the Consul

At my immigrant visa interview, the officer told me I was ineligible to move to the U.S. because I had been convicted of a crime. My conviction happened years ago, can I ask for an exception and still immigrate?

June 27, 2011

Determining whether or not you can obtain a waiver to allow you to immigrate to the United States depends on what crime you committed and what your relationship is to the petitioner.

Please note, being eligible to apply for a waiver does not mean that the waiver will automatically be approved; approval is at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security.

The type of crime you committed is important because it will allow the consular and immigration officer to determine if a waiver of the ineligibility is available.  Some ineligibilities cannot be waived, such as ineligibilities based on an applicant being convicted of, or reasonably believed to be involved in, drug trafficking; terrorist activity, and alien smuggling.

Persons convicted of most other types of crime are usually eligible to apply for a waiver. Whether the waiver will be granted depends on the severity of the crime, how long ago it was committed, and the relationship between the applicant and the petitioner.  Many ineligibilities cannot be waived unless the applicant is the spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or green card holder.

Every immigrant visa applicant who is refused a visa is provided with a written explanation for the refusal.  If your refusal was based on a criminal conviction and you are eligible for a waiver, you will also be provided with instructions on how to apply for the waiver.