Online immigration law study is back! This fall’s offerings from the City University of New York’s School for Professional Studies (SPS), include two sections offered online, Introduction to Immigration Law and Business Immigration Law. That is in addition to classroom offerings of the introductory course and an advanced course in Naturalization and Citizenship Law. This year, SPS is offering the introductory course at the CUNY Express office in Washington Heights Manhattan and at the CUNY Graduate Center at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. Classes begin Wednesday, August 27.
The School for Professional Studies offers the most comprehensive immigration law study program in the nation. If you have a four-year degree, you may take the courses for CUNY graduate school credit. If you do not have the degree, you may take the courses for no credit. Complete the introductory course and two out of four immigration law advanced courses for credit and you will earn a certificate in immigration law studies. For information, go to https://sps.cuny.edu/, write to [email protected], or call 212-817-7255.
Will old fighting arrest hurt me now?
Q. Will my arrest for fighting affect my right to get permanent residence? My U.S.-citizen boyfriend wants to marry me and petition for permanent residence for me.
Three years ago, I was arrested for fighting. The judge ruled that if I stayed out of trouble for six months he would dismiss the case. I did stay out of trouble. My record is now clean.
A. Your criminal record should not be a problem. Fighting is not a crime that bars you from getting permanent residence. Furthermore, if a judge dismissed a case without the defendant having pleaded guilty or no contest, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot use a conviction against the person.
To be absolutely sure that your arrest will not affect your application, get an immigration law expert to review your court papers. My bet is that you will be fine.
The relationship between criminal law and immigration law is one of the most complicated areas of immigration law.
I will review how criminal activity affects applications for permanent residence. Note that these rules are different from those that apply to naturalization applicants and permanent residents charged with being deportable.
An applicant for permanent residence convicted of a crime, may be inadmissible – barred from getting permanent residence - if the crime is either a crime involving moral turpitude or a crime involving drugs. Other crimes and offenses, including domestic violence, also may make you inadmissible.
That is why a person who has ever been arrested needs to speak with an expert before applying for an immigration benefit.
What is moral turpitude? Generally, it refers to crimes that only an evil-spirited person would do. Crimes involving moral turpitude include cheating the government and most crimes involving fraud, theft and some violent crimes. Many assault crimes DO NOT involve moral turpitude.
As for drug-related crimes, immigration laws are especially harsh. If you are convicted of any crime involving a controlled substance, you are barred from immigrating. A waiver is available only if the conviction was for a single offense of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
No waiver is available for immigrant visa applicants for other drug-related crimes. The “no waiver” rule applies to even minor drug-related activity, such as more than one marijuana possession conviction, selling marijuana (even a small quantity), and possession of cocaine.
A person inadmissible for having committed a crime involving moral turpitude or for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana can get permanent residence if the USCIS waives inadmissibility.
You can get the waiver if you can prove that either
(1) you are the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and that your relative would suffer extreme hardship if you were not admitted as a permanent resident or
(2) the offense happened more than 15 years before your application, you have rehabilitated, and your admission to the U.S. would not be contrary to the welfare, safety, or security of the country.
Allan Wernick is a lawyer and chair of the City University of New York Citizenship and Immigration Project. He is the author of “U.S. Immigration and Citizenship - Your Complete Guide, Revised 4th Edition.” Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, Daily News, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10001. Professor Wernick’s web site is www.allanwernick.com.
Allan Wernick’s Immigration column is reprinted from the Thursday, August 14 editions of the New York Daily News.