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I am interested in applying for a PhD in the United States.

My main worry is after gaining on offer from wherever, I will be given an i-20(I think) and then would be able to apply for a F1 visa.

I have heard that the United States are very cutthroat when it comes to immigrants with a criminal record (I actually think I would be called a non-immigrant) and I am beginning to wonder whether it is worth the effort studying for the GRE's etc.

Has anyone had any experience with this before?

Remark: The reason why I am posting this on here is that I believe that people who wish to study in the US, i.e on a temp basis, are treated differently to those who wish to live there.

Further remark: The offence was an assault and was committed approx 4 years ago.

migrated from academia.stackexchange.com Mar 14 '17 at 15:01

This question came from our site for academics and those enrolled in higher education.

  • I can't say anything about the expat point of view, but from the Academia point of view, I'd say that my impression from other questions there is that preparing for the GRE should not take more than 20 hours, spread out, and this could be a useful exercise, i.e. not a waste of time regardless of the outcome of your visa situation. // In the U.S. there's a big difference between felony and misdemeanor. – aparente001 Mar 14 '17 at 20:07
  • I see. I heard there are two GRE's you need to take. One "English and Maths" one and a subject specific one. I have not had a look at the material quite yet. Regarding the difference between the felony and misdemeanor, I will have to look into how the US interprets assaults etc. – user11371 Mar 14 '17 at 22:15
  • I'm not actually sure they'll label the crime based on the fine print description of the crime. They might have some formula based on how it was labeled in the original country. // Preparation for the basic GRE can be quite brief. When I said 20 hours, I was talking about the subject GRE. Take a look at questions with that tag on Academia. – aparente001 Mar 14 '17 at 23:52
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A key question is whether your assault was "simple" or "aggravated"; the former is not considered to be a "crime involving moral turpitude," so it does not make you inadmissible.

Even if it were aggravated assault, a single conviction for a "crime of moral turpitude" does not by itself make you inadmissible if the maximum penalty you could have received was one year or less, and the actual penalty to which you were sentenced was six months or less.

For more information, see https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/ineligibilities.html.

The section that most concerns you is 212(a)(2)(A):

(A) Conviction of certain crimes.-

(i) In general.-Except as provided in clause (ii), any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime, or

(II) a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)), is inadmissible.

(ii) Exception.-Clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime if-

(I) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and the alien released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date of application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, or

(II) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed or of which the acts that the alien admits having committed constituted the essential elements) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed).

As you can learn at the bottom of CBP's ineligibilities page, even if your conviction exceeds these limits, you can still apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. Success is, of course, far from guaranteed.

As an aside, you are correct that an F-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. Nonimmigrants are indeed treated differently from immigrants in many respects, but the standards of admissibility are fundamentally the same.

  • I had 100 hours community service. I think I might be okay! Thank you very much for your excellent answer. – user11371 Mar 15 '17 at 13:55
  • @HMPARTICLE when your situation is resolved, please come back and post your own answer to your question, so future visitors can learn from your experience. Good luck! – phoog Mar 16 '17 at 18:12

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