Can USCIS See Expunged Records?
If you are pursuing permanent residency in the United States, you are likely aware that the stakes are quite high. The immigration process is lengthy, complex, and competitive. It can also be really difficult to navigate. Simple mistakes can cause major setbacks to the overall process or even result in your application being rejected. United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) officials also have broad discretion in applying a wide array of adjudicative factors and making decisions about whether to approve or deny applications. One of these adjudicative factors is past criminal history. If you have any past criminal charges or convictions, you may be wondering if expungement could benefit you, or if you have past convictions or charges that have been sealed or expunged, you may be wondering if USCIS will even find out about them. We’ll explore the answers to these questions below.
Disclosing Expunged and Sealed Charges and Convictions to USCIS
When you apply for your green card, citizenship, or other visa, USCIS stipulates that you must disclose any past criminal history. This includes any charges or convictions that have been sealed or expunged. USCIS clearly states that it is the responsibility of the applicant not only to disclose these crimes, but also to provide the court records associated with them, even if they have been sealed or expunged. You might be thinking that if USCIS places the burden of disclosing and providing all of these records on the applicant that they are not capable of finding the information themselves.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Federal agencies, including USCIS, have the ability to see complete criminal histories of all applicants, including any sealed or expunged records. This information will be available to USCIS officers when they conduct a background check on the applicant. If the background check reveals a charge or conviction that the applicant did not disclose, this can be a basis for denying the application. In this situation, it is better to be honest and let the cards fall where they may, rather than trying to conceal something that USCIS has access to. The fact is that many applicants with some degree of a criminal history have ultimately been approved for their green card. However, it is pretty unheard of that someone who lied about their criminal history on their application would ever be granted a green card. While an expungement can help demonstrate that a charge happened a long time ago and that you met the requirements for expungement, it will not keep USCIS officials from seeing it, so it is best to be honest.
Schedule a Consultation with HAWM Law
If you are pursuing a green card or naturalization in the United States and you have complication factors on your application, such as a criminal history, it is important to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. The experienced immigration attorneys at Orlando, Florida’s HAWM Law are ready to advocate for you and will fight to represent your interests and help you navigate any unexpected obstacles that occur throughout the process. Contact HAWM Law today to schedule a consultation.