Does having tattoos affect my application for permanent residency?

In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® answers the question of a reader who wants to know if having tattoos can affect his permanent residency process.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

I am applying for permanent residency through my American wife. I have several tattoos on my body and I heard that having tattoos could be a reason to deny me residency. is this true? -David J.

David, having tattoos alone does not disqualify you from applying for permanent residency.

However, if the tattoos you have are related to gangs or other criminal groups, the federal government may investigate your case further to determine if you have a criminal record. You could be denied permanent residency if you have committed disqualifying criminal acts, whether or not you have been found guilty in a criminal court.

Every immigrant applying for permanent residency must undergo a medical examination that includes a body examination to determine the presence of tattoos. The results of the examination are turned over to the federal government and the immigration officer may ask you about your tattoos. You should be ready to explain the meaning of each tattoo and why you got them.

I recommend that you show your tattoos to your immigration attorney so that he or she can determine if the tattoos stamped on your body will affect your immigration process.