September 25, 2013 By Wallin & Klarich

An immigrant who is seeking to obtain federal immigration benefits from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and has a history of criminal convictions or arrests is strongly encouraged to use the help of a criminal defense attorney in order to obtain the necessary court dockets/dispositions and records. Regardless of whether the immigrant is applying for adjustment of status, a nonimmigrant visa, or naturalization, it can be crucial to obtain the necessary records in order to accurately process the immigration petition. An immigrant benefit application without supplied court dockets can be subject to a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a rejection by the federal agency. In order for the USCIS to successfully grant immigration benefits, the US Government wants to verify that an applicant convicted of a crime does not pose a threat to the public or government or have questionable moral character.

Court Conviction Records/Dockets

requesting court docketsCopies of court documents that are recent, including orders regarding marriage and judgments of dissolutions, probate, name change, civil and criminal cases – may be available at the headquarters of the judicial district where the case was handled. In the State of California it is usually the courthouse where the case was handled and cannot be requested through any other court.

Retaining a criminal defense attorney speeds the process for the applicant. Often, requests made by individuals can result in long delays or rejected packages for a number of reasons. Ordering case documents requires the court case disposition number and typically additional information including the parties’ names, as well as other important dates and locations. Fees are generally charged for the records and the price for each record is typically determined by amount of pages being requested or other factors that a criminal defense attorney can find out for you.

Though there is not a set timeframe or process established for a general method of obtaining court records in California, as each court has a different system, it is important to note that it may take longer than 30 days before an applicant has received proper court records to supplement their application for US Immigration benefits.

Police and Arrest Records

If an immigrant was arrested for a crime, but the charges were dismissed or never filed by the District Attorney’s office, there is a different method for requesting records. These records are only police records/arrest records and thus are not available to be requested from a court. Similar to how each court has different methods of requesting records each police department in California does as well. To request police records from a local police department, an applicant can easily request the records in person. However, for some immigrants this may not be possible due to not having properly issued U.S. government ID or reasons of fear.

If you are applying for adjustment of status, naturalization or you need help with any immigration issues, contact JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office at (213) 738-8700. If you are an immigrant facing criminal charges, contact the Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich at (888) 280-6839. The experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help you avoid a criminal conviction that will greatly affect your ability to stay in the country legally.

This guest blog post was written by Graham Post, JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office.

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