Apply for family based green card with petty theft on record

Kris writes, "I am currently in the United States legally on a H visa.  I met a wonderful American citizen and we got recently married.  Now she wishes to sponsor me for permanent resident status but more than 6 years ago, I was charged with shoplifting (stealing merchandise worth less than $75 at Best Buy).  With the help of an attorney, the charge was reduced to trespassing and after completing probation, my conviction was expunged.  I am now wondering if I will be able to adjust my status with this on my record.  Is this a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT)?  Will I be denied?  What should I do?"


I am assuming that you have hired a good attorney for this process.  DO NOT try this without a lawyer.  You will need to submit the final court paperwork, but the USCIS will do its own background search on you.  My understanding is that as for as Feds are concerned, nothing is really expunged.  What is meant by expunging is that the conviction is eliminated from the public records but the original charges and timeline remains in the court records forever and is always accessible to law enforcement authorities and to USCIS.  It is just that a search by a potential employer will not find this conviction on your record. 

Chances are that because it was a fairly small crime (I always get shocked when foreigners break the law for something so small!), you have been clean since then, and you are a spouse of a US citizen, you will be approved, but make sure that your attorney is good at this sort of stuff.