Green card USA - alien criminal record


I would like to live and work in New York after 4 visits over the past few years using an ESTA.  I am 33 years old, single and a UK citizen.  However my father is an American citizen and still holds his American passport. My mum and him are still together here in the UK and they had me whilst married.

The problem is I have a criminal record.  In 2006 I was fined £750 for theft by employee.

What process do we need to take to ensure the best chance for me getting into the US to live and work.

Thank you all.


Hi Paul.

If your father lived in the US prior your birth, you are automatically a US citizen since you were born. As such, criminal  record or not, you are entitled to live in the US.

However, the immigration law sets the number of years in regard to the above mentioned “prior” depending what the law was at the time of your birth and provided you were conceived in weddock.

Differently, if you were conceived out of weddock, you can acquire US citizenship if you comply with other timings, always in regard to the mentioned “prior”.

Go to There look for “acquisition of US citizenship by a child born abroad”. In there, you’ll find everything nicely explained and you can look up at your specific situation.

As a rule. Remember that at the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, everything ( and when I say everything I really mean it), you can find any answear to your immigration questions.

Hope this may be of help to you.

Good luck

Thank you for all this.

I have looked and it is very confusing.  However my farther moved to the U.K with his mother when he was 18months old and has never returned however he still has all his US citizen rights and up to date passport.  I was born in 1985 and my father,  I think was 22 at the time.

Not sure what else I can do :/

Thanks for the help.  If you know anymore please let me know.



Based on your provided more detailed information, I read it again. I think the part that apply to you is where it says for people that were born between 1952 and 1986. but I have bad news. In fact, since your father didnt live in the US during 10 years period prior your birth, you cannot acquire US citizenship.

However, it as well says that an alternative still qualifying condition to the 10 years physical presence is if your father had a possession in the US. Ask him. maybe he did?

If he didnt, then you can only be authorized to apply as an immigrant which imply to petition for residency. If it’s granted, you have to reside in the US for 5 years before you can period for citizenship.

Now, concerning petitioning for residency, imply that you find a sponsor in the US which could be a family member or an employer. If you find one and so petition, you’ll be required to provide imformation about any past fellony and to swear you are writing the truth. Advise: don’t ever lie or hide away anything because 1) they will find out because they verify your information and 2) this will automatically ban you from the US. They really don’t accept liers.

Now, even if one may have committed a crime, they can still accept the petition. However, it depends on the nature of the crime. I don’t know which one are acceptable for them and which not. I believe that if you google the matter, you can find out.

The very easy way to get the residency strait away, is if you have an American fiancée. You’ll be given a visa for fiancée to enter the US and get marry there. You’ll then be given a permanent residency and, after only 2 years instead of 5, you can apply for citizenship. But still, even for this option, if your problem you had with the justice in the UK is not excusable for immigration. It will not work.

I know all of these information because I’m Europen too and had to go through the immigration process. However, I’m no attorney. You can always consult one in the US by finding one in the internet. They provide phone consultation. Only make sure is a immigration attorney.

Hope this was helpful.

Again, good luck.

What do you mean possession?

Thank you for this.  It looks like I’ll have to take the immigrant route.

Kind regards


Well, as you may have understood by now, English isn’t my mother language. If you go to the website I told you, you’ll see that in the part that apply to you (the one about people born between 1952 and 1986, it says “Or one of its outlying possession”. I believe this refers to something that your father was owning there. A property for example. Do you agree with me that that is the meaning? Since you are English native, maybe you can confirm what that does mean.

I think you will find that, "or one of it's outlying possessions", means any other USA owned territory or possession.
So if the OP's father lived in say Puerto Rico or Guam etc for the 10 years then it would be okay.

Thanks for the clarification :)

I think I’m best getting an employer to petition me as I can see no other way.

Although I am dating someone in New York.  Although we have only been dating for 6 months.

Thanks for clarifying.

I would suggest hiring an immigration attorney. They're expensive and completely worth the money!

I talk out of personal experience. The first step I would take is to know as much as possible about what are the available options finding information in the official US immigration department. That is where I found what already said in my past post. Knowledge is power.

Next step, discuss the findings by consulting an immigration attorney. Some gives the consultation for free, some may ask a few hundreds dollars.

Upon that, one as to watch out because attorney’s are there to suck money out of you. Often they make believe that your case cannot be dealt by yourself but only an attorney and it may very well not be true! It happened to me. If I would have listen to the attorney I would have spend $30.000 for something that I easily did myself by... reading the instructions in the US immigration website on how to apply! This is why I say: knowledge is power! Many people wrongly assume that attorney’s knows everything and this is not true. Often attorneys in good faith think they know, but in reality they are wrong. I’ve experienced even this and if I didnt took the wrong steps, it was thanks to myself,  to my reading and not thank to the attorney! Another thing to watch out when dealing with attorney’s is that usually they don’t like being questioned, don’t like their knowledge be challenged. So my advise is: if you find an attorney that gets uncooperative and harsh when you tell him “excuse me but I read something different from what you are saying”, just turn him down. A professional attorney works in teamwork with his client and doesn’t act as the client is his employee. The client is the employer!

In the end. No matter what, One could decide to have everything handled by an attorney, and then is where of course becomes expensive.

Again, knowledge is power!

As clarified by Stumpy, the reference to possessions means territories like Guam that belong to the US while not being States. This has nothig to do with owning property or not. Your father having lived in the States for only 18 months does NOT qualify you to get US citizenship.

But this puts you back where your initial question started; how to get a visa with a criminal record? Having a solid job offer is good but such a petition from a potential employer does nothing about the criminal record factor. One can only apply and see how they respond. The criminal record might just be ignored if it is for a non-violent minor offence but one never knows. I know a British passport holder that lived for decades in the States and is married to an American. He was deported last year. His problem was that he once got caught 30 years ago with a joint crossing into the UK and although the charges were dropped, the fact that he had an arrest without conviction for even a minor drug charge disallowed him from ever getting a green card. And with the climate under Trump, any criminal record is even more likely to cause refusal. Again, apply and see what happens but you are simply on questionable grounds. Sounds harsh but these are the present consequences for having a record.

I agree.

Hi everybody,

Please note that some posts have been removed from this thread.


Priscilla team

That is dificult once immigration see you have a criminal record they will denie you ...ban for good

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