Not every client I work with has a spotless record. My clients have been arrested for driving without a license, shoplifting, indecent exposure, DUIs, and many other things.
An arrest or conviction for a crime is a serious matter, but it doesn’t always stop an immigrant from getting a green card or becoming naturalized. However, not having the right paperwork may be a roadblock.
Whenever someone has a run-in with the law, USCIS wants to know that the issue has been resolved. Although a background check is run on every applicant, the results only show the incident – it doesn’t show what the sentence was or the judge’s specific wording. The adjudicator only has half of the story and they need the applicant to provide the second half.
Not having certified dispositions is the most common reason why cases cannot be decided on the spot by a USCIS adjudicator. Without these dispositions, the case goes on a back room shelf and may not be reviewed until several months later.
WHAT IS A CERTIFIED DISPOSITION?
It’s a document from the Clerk of the Court that shows:
- What you were charged with;
- The outcome of the case – were charges dropped, did you plead guilty; and
- Any sentence imposed.
A certified disposition looks different from court to court. There is no general template for the U.S., or even within a state. However, to be considered “certified,” it must have a stamp or seal on it.
If the court cannot find your record or the case file has been destroyed, you must get a letter from the court that says exactly that. The letter should have your name on it, be on court letterhead, and simply state that no records are available. Again, the letter should be certified.
By doing this before your interview, you will be saving yourself potentially months of waiting for a decision at the interview. Your goal should be to provide the interviewing officer everything they need so they can make a decision for you as quickly as possible.