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Vital and criminal record for immigration: what it is and how to find the right records

When filing immigration applications and petitions, the US government often requires you to provide various documentation of marriage status, family relationships, citizenship, and name change. You may also need to document past interactions with the police or the judicial system. It is very important to be truthful. The government usually conducts criminal background checks when applying for a green card and other immigration benefits and statuses. Therefore, you will need to collect these vital and criminal records if relevant to your situation. How to do this and where to look for these documents, told the publication Citizen path.

Photo: Shutterstock

Civil records and criminal records for immigration

Vital records are vital records created by an official government agency or official. They can also include records that are held by a government agency. In the United States and some other countries, vital records are usually publicly available. This is because most of them are available to anyone who requests them. There are some privacy restrictions.

Many countries outside the US can use a family register, household register, or family album. These are all different names for civil registration, used to track information of genealogical or family-oriented legal interest. Of course, each country can have unique names for these family registers. For example, hojok in South Korea, koseki in Japan, familienbuch in Germany, hukou in China, and registration in many post-Soviet countries.

Vital records (birth, death, marriage and divorce records)

Civil registration records usually include documents such as birth and marriage records. They are usually required as documents proving kinship, marital status and nationality. Examples of documents that the US government may request include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce judgment
  • Marriage annulment certificate
  • Death certificate

Criminal and court cases

Again, in many immigration applications and petitions, you are required to disclose and document past interactions with law enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad. Examples of documents that the US government may request include:

  • Arrest report
  • Detention Agency Official Statement
  • Court order
  • Probation or parole record

When applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, the National Visa Application Center requires you to present certified court and prison documentation for each conviction. Even if you receive a pardon or amnesty, you must provide a record that includes the full circumstances of the crime for which you were convicted and the final outcome of the case, including the penalty.

On the subject: You are an insect without a piece of paper: what problems face immigrants in the USA due to lack of documents from their homeland

Applicants in the United States must provide the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with police and court records that include any arrests or charges, even if they occurred as a minor or were later dropped. If the incident was not related to alcohol, drug, personal injury or property damage, you most likely will not need to provide records of minor traffic violations.

You may also be required to provide a statement related to the events that led to your arrest or conviction. When applying for immigration benefits after being arrested or convicted, it is always best to seek the advice of an immigration attorney. He will help you develop a strategy for your specific situation and guide you on how to write a written statement.

Search records in the United States

In the United States, events at the courthouse are in the public domain. Once the court closes the case, you can already access these records. Typically, criminal records are kept in court and police databases. These records will list any previous convictions or warrants per person.

If you are trying to access the records in the United States, you have the right to go directly to the court in which your case was heard. Start searching for police records through the local police station that made the arrest or detention.

In the United States, the local office typically maintains birth, death, marriage, and divorce records. States also often have a health department that can provide access to older vital records. You don't always need to visit physical offices. Many states are creating online databases for easy access. For details on how to obtain these records in the United States, see link.

In many cases, no fee is charged for accessing public documents when accessed through the government agency that manages them. However, these offices often do so for a fee when they make copies or provide other services.

Search records abroad

If you are looking for vital records of overseas events, you will need to look in a specific location. Each country has different processes and procedures for obtaining information on important records.

The US Department of State's tool for finding such records is available here.

Not all countries store information required for immigration purposes. In many cases, recordings may not be available. It may be necessary to document why the records are not available and provide alternative evidence.

Remember that you will need a translation of your documents when submitting them to USCIS. If you have attached any documents in a foreign language to your application or petition, you must provide certified English translations.

Alternative Evidence - When Vitals Reports Are Not Available

If your vital register is not available or does not exist, you must prove it is not there and provide alternative evidence of the event (e.g. birth, marriage, etc.).

There are several steps

Check document availability

Use a Department of State directory to determine if vital records are available in your country. If this web page shows that there are no birth certificates from your country of birth, you do not need to do anything to prove that your birth certificate is not available or does not exist. In this case, go directly to step 3.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York

Get a certificate of unavailability

If the State Department handbook does not indicate that the entry you want is unavailable or missing, you should provide a certificate of unavailability. These should be:

  • The original written statement of the authority on the official letterhead of the government;
  • The reason the entry doesn't exist;
  • Indicate if similar records are available by time and place.

You must provide the original Certificate of Unavailability along with alternative evidence.

Provide alternative evidence

If your record is not available or does not exist, you must provide other evidence to support the facts that you provide on your immigration form. Alternative evidence may include affidavits or any other evidence relating to the facts of the event.

The original affidavit is a written explanation from a third person that describes the facts of an event. It can be written by a friend of yours or a family member who is near you and was there to record the event (birth, marriage, etc.). The general rule is to provide at least two affidavits.

Any other document can be used if it is indicative of the event in any way. Religious or school records, hospital or medical records, or similar evidence may be appropriate for birth. Some examples include baptismal certificates, school registration with date of birth, and census records, among others.

If you are only submitting affidavits (and no other alternative evidence), submit at least two birth affidavits.

Original or photocopies

In most cases, you can provide photocopies of vital records and other documents when filling out immigration forms.

However, please bring the original document or a certified copy with you to your interview. You may not need this. However, if you do not have the original or a certified copy when requested by the employee, it may take several more weeks for your case to be processed.

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