We often get asked this question and it's certainly a good one to ask if you've fallen in love with an alien you intend to bring over to the US. There's no single answer that can answer that question for everyone, so we'll go into the basics of what is required by the government and how it might affect various situations.
When you're answering the questionnaire our software uses to fill out the paperwork, you'll notice questions asking if you've had any convictions or court martials for certain crimes. You must answer truthfully to be within the law. There is a chance that if you answer "yes" your petition could be denied. It all depends on the crime, and the USCIS agent reviewing your case. Certain crimes won't make a difference, while others might make it nearly impossible to be approved.
The government's position is to protect both you and the alien.
It may seem unfair to you, and depending on your circumstances, it may be. But try to think of it from the perspective of the agent. It's their job to catch things like drug traffickers, human traffickers and other potential abusive or criminal situations from occurring.
The last thing an agent wants is to be the 'guy' who approved a petition for an alien who comes over only to be abused in some way by a violent predator.
Be honest and disclose what's asked
If you have any violent criminal history such as sexual assault, domestic violence, or substance abuse, you must disclose full disclosure in your petition, including an explanation and court records.
Even if it's "sealed"!
You may think your record has been cleared or your file sealed, but you must still disclose details of any such cases. You may be not only denied but have legal consequences if you aren't honest up front.
TIP: Don't hide these details from your fiance either! Chances are, your fiance will be notified by the USCIS and you don't want to have that be the first time they hear about it.
Explain your side of things
Just because you got in a bar fight 20 years ago doesn't mean you're going to beat up your wife. Circumstances like this are common, and there's an opportunity to give an explanation of what happened. Depending on the circumstances, you may lower your chances for denial.
If your crime is more serious or kind of indefensible, you may want to contact an attorney for advice.
International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA)
IMBRA was signed into law in 2005 in an effort to prevent domestic violence against foreign fiances. IMBRA requires the fiance to be handed out a pamphlet on domestic violence. It also requires you, the US citizen petitioner, to disclose these types of convictions.
Note: If you met your fiance on an online dating site (which many of our customers do), you may need a written statement explaining that the site is a dating site, and not a marriage broker.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act, passed in 2006, also states that if you were involved in a sex crime that involved a child, you are immediately ineligible for petitioning for your fiance or spouse.
If you misrepresent yourself or hide any convictions, you will be "subject to a fine or imprisonment of not more than 1 year, or both, in addition to other possible penalties that may be imposed under federal or state law. " -(Sections 833(d)(3)(C)), IMBRA.
Give us a call to discuss what your concerns are and we'll do our best to help.