Special Concerns For Penn State International Students
Addressing The Special Concerns Of Penn State International Students
Each year, Penn State welcomes thousands of international students to our community. In the past, most international students were in graduate programs, but now we have a lot of undergraduate students from around the world. International students add much to the cultural diversity of State College. While an undergraduate student at Penn State, I myself spent a semester as an international student in Germany. In my younger days, I, Matt McClenahen, spent many a night hanging out with international students at the International Friendship House and the basement of the University Club on College Avenue. I love watching international football tournaments at Champs because the energy generated by the international students and faculty make the matches so much more exciting.
One of the best ways to learn about a foreign culture is to go out and have a good time with the natives. Occasionally, what was intended to be a fun night out can result in a run-in with the police. Unfortunately, the consequences of a criminal conviction can be far more severe for a foreign national than they would be for a United States citizen.
Criminal Charges Can Have Harsh Consequences
International students can now lose their student visas as soon as they are charged with a crime and fingerprinted, even if the charges never result in a conviction. In the past, a student visa would not normally be canceled unless a student was actually convicted. Thus, criminal defense lawyers representing international students need to be aware of approaches that will allow clients to keep their student visas.
A conviction in the United States also makes it difficult to be allowed re-entry into the United States in the future, especially if you have been convicted of a drug-related offense. Additionally, a conviction could even impact your ability to travel to certain other countries. For example, ever since 9/11, Canada and the United States have become very strict about denying entry to people who have criminal convictions, even for offenses as minor as driving under the influence (DUI).
A certain percentage of international students will end up with a job in the United States. They may marry an American citizen and have children in the United States. After building a life in America, they may wish to become citizens. Even if you were convicted of a minor offense, which did not lead to deportation, it could still come back to haunt you years later if you are trying to become a U.S. citizen. Ideally, a person applying for citizenship should have nothing more serious than a traffic ticket on his or her record. As much as the United States opens its arms to foreign doctors, engineers, scientists and computer programmers, it is equally reluctant to grant citizenship to someone with a criminal record.
Working To Minimize Potential Harm
Of course, the same negative consequences of a criminal conviction that apply to an American student also apply to an international student. Having something on your record could make it more difficult to obtain a job or acceptance to graduate school. This is particularly true if the other applicants have similar qualifications to yours.
On the bright side, the types of offenses foreign students commit tend to be relatively minor. In many cases, when they come to the McClenahen Law Firm P.C., I am able to work out resolutions to their cases, which allows them to keep their visas, stay in the United States and avoid having criminal records.