Did you know that expungements, while generally a good thing for people who have criminal records (whether arrests or convictions) and wish to keep them private, can be potentially detrimental to an application for naturalization/citizenship? Why? The reason has to do with the fact that if a person has even been arrested, he/she will be expected to furnish a certified disposition at the time of the interview. If an applicant has already had his/her records expunged, there will no longer be any “record” of his/her arrest or conviction. Consequently, he or she will not be able to furnish a certified record from the court showing that the matter has been resolved. Another common misconception that many prospective clients in New Jersey seem to be under is that expungements in New Jersey will totally erase one’s record. This is not technically true. Arrest records and convictions are still accessible by law enforcement as well as the Department of Homeland Security, so we would certainly not recommend that a person intentionally omit an arrest because it has been “erased.” Rule of thumb: if you are applying for permanent residence or naturalization, you might want to hold off on the expungement until after the immigration process is complete or, alternatively, secure certified records and dispositions from the relevant courts before the expungement is finished.
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