If a permanent resident has a criminal record, can he/she travel outside the U.S.?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column, I answer a question from a reader who fears that her permanent resident boyfriend will have trouble re-entering the United States.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

My boyfriend is a permanent resident. He has pleaded guilty to two felonies, including one for domestic violence. We want to travel to Mexico, but we are afraid that when we return the U.S. immigration authorities will not let him in because of the problems he has had. Should my boyfriend travel to Mexico? -Maria P.

Maria, I do not recommend that your boyfriend travel outside the United States without first consulting with an immigration attorney who can review his background and determine if his past crimes could have immigration consequences and prevent him from re-entering the country.

Your boyfriend should go to the court where he was found guilty and ask for a disposition of each of the crimes he committed. The documents will explain important information, including when and why your boyfriend was arrested, what he was found guilty of, and the sentence he received for each crime.

The immigration attorney will interview your boyfriend and review court documents to determine if his immigration and criminal history puts his permanent resident status in jeopardy. After analyzing his background, the attorney will be able to tell your boyfriend whether or not he should travel outside the United States. In that analysis, the attorney will also inform them whether your boyfriend can file an application for citizenship immediately.

Being a U.S. citizen gives you many benefits, including access to better jobs and protection from possible deportation.

Please do not travel outside the United States without having your boyfriend consult with an immigration attorney.