I am currently on a H-1B visa. I entered USA 5 years ago on a F-1 visa (for Masters degree). Had a brush with law here and was arrested for shop-lifting (gross misdemeaner) 4 years ago. The charges were dismissed and the case terminated for I had a clean record and after I completed 50 hours of community service (no admission of guilt on my part). I assumed that the case is done, I learnt my lesson the hard way and forgot about it.
I completed my masters and started working on a H-1 visa 3 years ago. Went to VancouverBC (Canada) to get my H-1 stamping, did not mention anything about my arrest since the charges were dismissed. The process went smoothly and I was given a stamp without any hassles (no interview or anything).
After that I travelled to India couple of times, got married, got issued a H-4 visa for my wife and re-entered USA without any questions or concerns.
Recently my H-1 got re-issued (after 3 years) and I was planning to go to India in February 2006 so took an appointment in the US consulate there for my H-1 stamping.
Meanwhile I had to goto Vancouver for a pleasure trip and even though my H-1 stamp had expired, I took the approved I-797 along with other documents as I was told that I can travel to Canada and come back within 30 days without a valid stamp as long as I have a valid I-94 and I-797.
On the port of entry, the officer there looked at my expired visa and I-797 and said that I would need a new I-94 (something they were issuing that to many people saying that it was a new kind of card with a chip in it).When getting my new I-94, the officer scanned my expired visa and started asking me questions like if I was ever arrested, I was not sure as I never had issues or questions like this before but on the spur of the moment I told him "YES". He asked for what and when, I answered "Shop-lifting about 3-4 years ago but the charges were dropped". He asked where, in US or outside US, I told him "in US while I was studying". He asked me what other criminal activities have I been upto and I told him "none at all and this was the only time".
After that he took the routine index finger print and gave me my new I-94 card saying that I am good to go.
Now I am really confused. Did he see something on his screen after he scanned my expired visa that prompted him to ask him the question or was it a routine question he had to ask before issuing a new I-94 (especially since he asked whether it was inside or outside USA). Did I give him too much info when all I had to say was "No sir" when he asked have you been ever arrested. If so would he have made notes on my file saying that I stated so.
When I go back to India for my H-1 re-stamping should I anwer yes to DS-156 question on "if you were ever arrested or convicted". I answered No the last time thinking that the charges were dismissed against me and it went fine that time. What would happen if I answer yes ? Can they cancel my visa ?
Also I am in the process of green card approval. My labor has been recently approved and I am waiting to file I-485 after my priority date (November 2003) gets curent. What should I state there, should I acknowledge or not. If I do acknowledge what repurcursions would it have ? Should it match with my answer in DS-156 ?
Q.) Would applying in VancouverBC, Canada be easier since last time I applied there and got the approval
Q.) What should I carry with me while applying for visa stamping
- certified court disposition order
- FBI clearance doc ? Does it help ?
Q) Any recommendation for attorneys ?
Anand, would really appreciate if anybody can advice something.
thanks a bunch!!!