If you have ever been arrested or convicted for a crime it could have a serious effect on your immigration status. Often, immigration petitions/applications will ask you for if you have ever been arrested, charged, or convicted. Having an arrest or conviction, does not automatically disqualify you. However, you will need to submit documentation of those arrests and convictions.
The best advice on the subject is to be honest and make a full disclosure. You cannot hide your criminal record from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They have access to the FBI criminal database and, if you have been in trouble before, they will almost certainly find out about it. Failure to disclose your criminal history can result in the denial of your petition/application.
Again, having been arrested or convicted is not an automatic disqualification. Depending on the particular petition/application and the nature of the crime, only recent arrests and convictions will be considered. However, you must still disclose ALL past arrests and convictions.
First it is advisable for you to have a complete national criminal background check run on yourself - especially if you have been arrested or convicted a number of times. Your attorney can assist you in collecting a list of all arrests/convictions and documentation to show that you have successfully completed any relating sentences. Collecting all of these documents can be a time consuming process, often taking weeks to months - especially if you do not live in the area that you were arrested in. So give yourself and your attorney plenty of time and understand that it is extremely important for immigration applications to be completed correctly to minimize wasted time and to maximize your chances of approval.
Also, remember that expunged convictions may have to be disclosed on your immigration application as well (see our article on expungements). Please contact us for more information relating to your particular circumstances.