Hi, this is attorney Michael Pariente with the Pariente Law firm P.C., John G. Watkins, of counsel. I’m a criminal defense lawyer here in Las Vegas and I’ve been practicing law for 18 years.
Today I’d like to talk to you about a question that I’ve been getting asked a lot and that is, “What is the effect of sealing a criminal record on one’s immigration status?”
In other words, let’s say you’re here in the country and you want to become a permanent resident or you’re a permanent resident and you want to become a U.S. citizen. What’s the effect of sealing a criminal conviction?
I’m going to give you a few hypotheticals. Let’s say hypothetical 1 is the person applying for citizenship or to become a permanent resident and has already sealed the criminal conviction. In that case, immigration is not going to be able to get that conviction because technically it doesn’t exist because it’s sealed therefore it’s not something that they can access. If they ask you to obtain it and bring it to them, you can tell them it’s sealed and you don’t have access to it now.
One thing you can’t do is you can’t lie if they ask you if you’ve ever been charged. They will ask you if you’ve been arrested or convicted in the past, you can’t lie. If you have sealed your record that’s a separate charge. You could be charged with the Federal Office of lying to immigration officials.
Here’s the 2nd scenario. This one is not a good scenario you don’t want to be in this situation. Let’s say you’re here illegally or you’re a permanent resident and you want to become a US citizen. Or let’s say you’re here illegally and you want to become a permanent resident now. Let’s say you have a criminal conviction and you go to apply with immigration and the immigration officials discovered you have this criminal conviction. If you decide you want to seal the criminal conviction at this point and you go and you hire an attorney, you seal the criminal conviction. Well in that situation it’s not going to do you any good because the immigration officials already have a copy of your criminal conviction and it makes no difference to them whether you’ve sealed it or not. In that situation they would be able to act adversely to you and perhaps report you.
Now, if you’re in a situation where you have been arrested in the past or you’ve been convicted of something in the past and you want to seal it, give us a call. We are more than happy to talk to you over the phone about how we can help you.