The American system of law and order can be considered by some to be rather harsh and unforgiving. Because it can affect non-citizens in special ways, international student and scholars especially should be sure to obey all laws, and understand the consequences of arrests and convictions.
An arrest is when police apprehend, restrain, or deprive a person of his/her liberty or freedom. Police tell you when you are under arrest, and they should notify you of your rights. Being arrested, even if charges are later reduced or dismissed, has immigration consequences that follow a person for the rest of your life. A conviction is when you plead guilty or are found guilty in a court, and similarly has immigration consequences that follow a person for the rest of your life.
The US visa application, for example, asks, "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime...?" Other USCIS and DHS forms and applications for benefits may ask the same or a similar question. US visa posts, USCIS, and DHS use databases containing arrest and conviction information when deciding immigration applications. If you were arrested you should answer the question yes, even if charges were later dropped or dismissed. If you have a prior arrest or conviction, you should be sure to have documents to show the outcome when you interview for your visa.
When entering the USA, you may be stopped at the Port Of Entry for further inspection if the officer sees you have been arrested, convicted, or fingerprinted by police. You may be taken out of line for secondary/enhanced screening, and again you should carry documents with you to show the outcome of any arrest or conviction.
Concordia is required to report in SEVIS any disciplinary action we take as a result of a student conviction of a crime.
A person who is arrested or convicted may spend time in jail, and may be subject to removal or deportation from the country. Such a situation is beyond the normal international student advising Concordia offers, and you should consult a qualified immigration attorney and criminal attorney for assistance.
Many international students and scholars may be uncomfortable with this topic. Luckily it affects very few.