Vacating a Criminal Conviction to get the Green Card
October 23rd, 2017
The past newsletter talked about how a criminal charge can have a serious impact in your immigration case and how here, in Massachusetts, a criminal conviction may be vacated, which would give you another chance to obtain legal immigration status in he U.S.
The next real-life success story will show you how our immigration and criminal lawyers at FitzGerald Law Company, helped one of our clients get his American residency based on marriage, after vacating a conviction that he had when he was young. If you think that you or any member of your family are eligible to vacate a criminal conviction, or to apply for any immigration benefit, call to our office in Boston to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal and immigration lawyers at (617) 303-2600 (ext. 0).
Henry came from Mexico as a young man with the belief that he could earn some money and later return to build a life in the only country he knew. He did not have a visa or permission to come to the U.S., only the desire to build a better life.
After he arrived, he discovered all the opportunities that existed for him here and that remaining in the US was vital for the economic wellbeing of his family in Mexico. He had no family or close friends in the US, but he managed to find employment and eventually created his own company. Despite all the success he had experienced, there was no way for him to obtain permission to stay in the U.S. permanently, until he met a special girl with whom he had a child and eventually married. His wife had the good fortune of being eligible to obtain a green card in the United States under the 245(i) law, even though she was not here legally. Her employer sponsored her, and her eligibility for a green card extended to her husband. After he had applied for adjustment of status, Henry was given work authorization and permission to travel, and it appeared that he would have a green card in a short time.
But Henry’s process was not destined to be easy, because when he was young, he had had a serious fight with another young man and was arrested. Henry was brought before a court as a 19 year old boy, given a court appointed lawyer and after only one court appearance, was told by his lawyer to plead guilty and not to worry because he would never have any trouble.
The Immigration authorities however, did not see his conviction in the same way that his criminal lawyer did. For immigration, this was a reason to deny his legal permanent resident status. Henry’s wife’s family had used the immigration legal services of FitzGerald Law Company in the past and they knew that our law firm also practiced criminal law, so they recommended that Henry meet with our attorneys.
The immigration / criminal lawyers at FitzGerald Law Company asked Henry to get all the records from the criminal court. They listened to Henry’s story and compared it to the records and determined that a very important witness who would have testified on Henry’s behalf was never called to court. The court records also indicated that Henry was never advised that accepting responsibility for this crime would prevent him from ever living legally in the U.S. under the immigration laws.
The criminal lawyers at FitzGerald Law Company prepared a motion to vacate Henry’s criminal conviction. The federal law and Massachusetts state laws will often allow a criminal conviction to be removed if it is clear that the defendant’s rights were violated in a significant way. The lawyers at FitzGerald Law Company argued to the court that the missing witness and the failure of the prior attorney to explain the immigration consequences of Henry’s plea, violated his rights.
After appearing before the court to present these arguments on four separate occasions, the court ruled in Henry’s favor, vacated his conviction and then dismissed the criminal charges. Freed from his criminal past, Henry was finally eligible to obtain his long awaited green card. If you think we can help you or someone you know in any criminal, immigration or personal injury matter, please call (617) 303-2600 (ext. 0) to schedule an initial consultation.
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