There is a common misconception out there that when a criminal conviction or arrest is expunged or “wiped out,” it is gone. Since the record is sealed, for all practical purposes, it is as if the event never happened. While this is true in many ways, it does not necessarily translate over to the immigration arena. Despite the fact that an expungement does remove the conviction or arrest from public eyes, law enforcement as well as DHS (Department of Homeland Security) still see those records. That means, for example, that when you apply for naturalization and deliberately fail to disclose an arrest or conviction because it was expunged, you will have a lot of explaining to do at the interview when the immigration officer asks why you failed to answer the question pertaining to arrests/convictions accurately. Do not assume that because something is expunged, it no longer has any bearing or weight on immigration status. If you have ever been arrested or convicted of anything–and you are not a US Citizen–you need to do your due diligence and consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine the ramifications before you even consider leaving the country for a trip or fill out an application for an immigration benefit. The old adage, as trite as it is, is so true: it is better to be safe than sorry, especially these days….
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