Parviz Malakouti, Esq.
Rehabilitation of Arrests/Crimes for Dreamers
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
People make mistakes in life.
Nobody is perfect.
Rehabilitation is a very important concept in immigration.
If a person has made a mistake in their life that resulted in a felony or misdemeanor conviction, a showing that the person has REHABILITATED themself is going to help with any discretion-based immigration application down the line.
Even certain infraction convictions can possibly benefit from a showing of rehabilitation.
In fact, even an ARREST that didn't lead to a conviction can often benefit from evidence of rehabilitation when dealing with discretion-based applications.
Because a person doesn't necessarily have to be convicted of an offense for the accusation to be used against them when dealing with discretion in immigration applications. The adjudicating officers can often use police reports, arrest records, government databases, gang databases, etc. etc.
So how does one show rehabilitation?
First of all, by keeping themselves out of trouble after the transgression.
The more time the person has stayed out of trouble, the better.
Some people have a Domestic Violence charge or shoplifting charge or marijuana possession charge or public drunkeness charge or whatever.
I had a younger guy come see me who told me he doesn't need to show further rehabilitation. He already completed probation, paid the fines and complied with the terms of probation.
Isn't that enough? he asked
No way. Those actions were mandatory. It was ordered by the court.
For showing rehabilitation, successfully completing probation was and is just a START.
Let's take a common example - someone who has a DUI.
A person who was convicted of a DUI or some charge related to operation of a motor vehicle and drugs would show rehabilitation by doing the following types of things.
These are EXAMPLES:
1) Attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings;
2) Getting involved in organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and other anti-DUI organizations;
3) Obtaining written declarations from individuals who know you and can speak to your rehabilitation over the time period in question;
4) Involvement in helping OTHERS overcome alcohol addiction;
5) Speaking openly or in public about overcoming alcohol addiction;
6) Producing content (articles, videos, podcasts) about overcoming alcohol addiction;
7) Obtaining an expungement of the conviction(s)
What are things that DON'T help show rehabilitation?
1) Making excuses ("the police officer was out to get me");
2) Blaming others ("my friends made me drive");
In fact, writing or saying things like that can even hurt the cause sometimes.
Adjudicators read or hear this nonsense and they think to themselves: "This guy STILL doesn't get it."
The kicker is that of those excuses may even have an element of truth to them, but it doesn't matter. The person was convicted. Probably the only one who thinks it was someone else's fault is their mom.
Adjudicators in immigration want to see CONTRITION. Not excuses.
A person who has made a mistake in their life and is looking to show that they have been rehabilitated can end up in a position where they are simply submitting their own declaration saying: "Trust me. I'm rehabilitated now."
...or they can submit: 1) their own declaration, 2) declarations from other people talking about how amazing the person's recovery has been and 3) a mountain of evidence showing their path to redemption.
It's obvious which person is going to have an edge in that situation. ____________________________________________________________
Here's the thing: many of these rehabilitative activities take TIME.
Some of them take months or even years.
What looks more impressive in a future application being submitted in August, 2021?
"Attendance at 2 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, July 2021"
"Monthly Attendance at Alcoholics meetings July, 2019-July, 2021."
The answer is obvious.
One person was smart, thought and ACTED ahead of time.
The other person is scrambling last minute.
And it's obvious.
People in precarious immigration situations who have something on their record that can be rehabilitated, should consider taking action NOW to be prepared for if/when that immigration opportunity comes down the line in the future.
Everyone makes mistakes in life and what happened in the past is done.
The question is: what are you doing now to patch up those mistakes?
Contact a qualified immigration attorney for case-specific advice.