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F visas – effect of arrest

Conviction for criminal activity, and even an arrest without conviction, can have serious consequences for foreign students studying in the U.S. An arrest that is later dismissed may still cause immigration problems. If a student returns to her home country for a visit and needs to apply for a return visa, her name will appear on the National Crime Information Center database. This will require the issuing consulate to send for a report that may take weeks to arrive, weeks during which the new semester, or other scheduled educational activities may be missed by the student.

Example circumstances which have immigration consequences:

  • Arrests even if you are not convicted. If you are fingerprinted, this can delay visa issuance.
  • Willful misrepresentations on an immigration or visa application.
  • Drug related offences which may or may not result in conviction.
  • Conviction for, or admission of, crimes of moral turpitude.
  • Suspension or expulsion from school as a result of criminal activity.

The immigration consequences of criminal activity:

  • Delays in obtaining visas.
  • Removal or deportation from the U.S.
  • Denial of visa or entry into the U.S.

If you’ve been arrested while on an F student visa but BEFORE your criminal case is resolved

  1. Get a good criminal defense attorney. Why? A good criminal attorney can reduce the risk of conviction, avoid making mistakes in criminal court that could hurt your status, and help you understand the charges and general nature of the accusations against you.
  2. Contact an immigration attorney. Why? An experienced immigration attorney will help you understand what you should do or not do in criminal court.
  3. Consider hiring both an experienced criminal defense attorney and an experienced immigration attorney to ensure the best outcome.
  4. If you’ve been arrested while on an F student visa and AFTER your criminal case is resolved

    • Consult with a criminal attorney for a letter summarizing your case and the outcome and for the following documents:
      • Your entire CERTIFIED criminal court file
      • Your certificate of disposition
      • Your CERTIFIED NYPD file
    • Get a written, custom report from an immigration attorney that discusses how your arrest and criminal court outcome will affect your US immigration status.

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