H1B visas (allowing foreign citizens with highly specialized expertise in the areas of math, science and engineering, among others, to live and work in the United States) are highly sought after and not easy to get due to the limit – or “cap” – on the number of such visas granted each year. There are many highly-qualified professionals working in New York thanks to the H1B visa program, and they are welcome additions and assets to the community.
Unfortunately, even a minor arrest can derail an application or renewal for an H1B visa. The attorneys at The Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo have represented many individuals with H1B visas who have received Desk Appearance Tickets for misdemeanor arrests, including, among other things: Theft of Services (PL 165.15), Petit Larceny (PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (PL 220.03), Criminal Mischief (PL 145.00), Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (PL 221.10), and Assault in the Third Degree (PL 120.00). Some of these cases are oftentimes resolved with adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (“ACDs”) that would generally be considered to be favorable dispositions. However, ACDs typically involve six month waiting periods before the cases are dismissed, and any people who need to apply for or renew their H1B visas during that six month period are precluded from doing so (and thus unable to remain in the United States at their chosen and hard-earned job). Put plainly, an H1B visa will not be renewed if a criminal case is pending or if the ACD waiting period is still outsanding. This effect has also been noted in the context of other visa applications, such as F1 and J1 visas.
While these are generally not considered the most serious of cases, for visa holders, even these comparatively minor criminal cases can impact your life, career and renewal applications in a number of other ways. For example, convictions for these crimes can result in job loss, permanent criminal records, deportation or inadmissibility, fines, and potentially even jail time. A criminal case should never be taken lightly, but foreign citizens with visas need to be even more mindful of the consequences of an arrest.