Our client, originally was a lawful permanent resident for many years, however several years back she had a felony arrest and conviction for money laundering and transportation of money in excess of $20,000.00 into the United States without reporting it. Since the time her criminal case had ended, more than five years ago, she had never attempted to travel outside of the country and was told by another immigration attorney that she should not apply for citizenship due to her felony; that she would be denied and ultimately could be deported from the United States.
Before we concurred with the other attorneys opinion, we thoroughly examined our clients criminal records and discovered that the case had been plead down to transportation of money and that we could make an argument that for immigration purposes, the crime was not a felony. We researched the most recent case law available and were comfortable that our argument was sound, so much so that we advised our client that she could safely apply for citizenship and would not be denied.
We attended the interview at 26 Federal Plaza just three months after filing the N-400. At that time we were asked to submit certified copies of the conviction record again, although we had previously filed them. Of course we had the copies available and when our client was questioned about the incident, she gave only the information necessary and pertinent to her current application. The officer could not make a final determination the day of the interview, despite the fact that she had passed the English and civics portion with flying colors. The officer was not able to determine if our legal argument regarding the criminal case was correct and stated that she would have to elevate it to a supervisor for a final opinion.
Of course, we were not surprised to receive a decision approving her application for naturalization. The officer did not respond immediately, as is often the case in non-controversial applications. We did wait an additional 30 days for a final and positive approval.