Atlanta, GA asked in Criminal Law and Immigration Law for Texas

Q: Caught for shoplifting when I’m on F1 visa and now I got H1 visa. Can I go to my home country now for a stamping ?

I was caught for shoplifting ( Misdemeanor A and it’s my first time offense. This was on 2017 April ) when I’m on F1 visa and I was arrested and taken to jail, been there for at least 3 hours before coming out with bail. They took my mug shots, finger prints, eye scan etc.. My lawyer said my case was dismissed because i did community service and I took a class. But my case is not expunged. My attorney is saying he will expunge the case From one year. But he is just delaying it from one year. Now I got my H1 visa approved. So I want to go to my home country ( I will only go after my case expungement is done successfully ). So my questions are after going I should get my visa stamped.

1. Will the U.S consulate know that I was arrested even after my case expungement??

2. Will they approve my H1 visa?? or Will I get stuck in my home country only??

3. Will there be any issue in my port of entry when I’m coming back to USA?? Will they allow me to enter USA again??

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2 Lawyer Answers

Kelli Y Allen

  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Charlotte, NC

A: Even if the case is expunged, you will still need to disclose the arrest and charge on any immigration paperwork and be prepared to show documentation of the dismissal. Have all of that with you when you go to the consulate and it should not present a problem. I would advise a consultation with an immigration attorney to review the documentation and review any issues prior to leaving the U.S.

Kyndra Mulder

  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, FL

A: In general shoplifting is a CIMT. You are considered guilty of the charges for immigration purposes even though the case was dismissed.

Having the case expunged does not help you for immigration purposes. In my experience it makes it more difficult because you must reopen it in order to get the documents that the USCIS requires you file.

When you leave the country you can be found inadmissible when you try to return. You may be eligible for the petty offense exception.

My suggest is that you have an experienced immigration attorney review your record BEFORE your leave.

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