Past criminal convictions in one’s home country can significantly affect their ability to obtain a work visa in the United States.
The U.S. immigration system places a strong emphasis on security and the moral character of applicants. Consequently, individuals with criminal records may face several challenges when seeking a work visa.
Inadmissibility due to certain convictions
Certain criminal convictions can make an individual inadmissible to the United States. Crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering and crimes of moral turpitude can result in visa denials. Crimes of moral turpitude include offenses involving dishonesty, such as fraud, theft or embezzlement. Applicants with such convictions may find their visa applications denied or face prolonged delays in the visa approval process.
Eligibility for specific work visas
A past criminal record can lead to a visa applicant getting deemed ineligible for certain types of work visas. For example, individuals seeking H-1B visas, which have a cap of 65,000 for skilled foreign workers, must demonstrate good moral character. Convictions for serious crimes may serve as evidence of bad character.
Severity of conviction
The seriousness of the past conviction matters. Multiple convictions or a single serious offense can weigh heavily against an applicant’s chances of obtaining a work visa. The U.S. government prioritizes the safety and security of its citizens and residents, and it is often reluctant to grant visas to individuals with a history of violent crimes or felonies.
Even if an individual’s criminal record is not an absolute barrier to obtaining a work visa, it can lead to additional requirements and scrutiny. Visa applicants with a criminal history may need to provide extensive documentation, character references and evidence of rehabilitation.