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How do arrests, convictions or cautions impact U.S. visa eligibility?

When preparing for your U.S. visa interview abroad, there are a number of key questions that you should ask yourself well in advance of your anticipated interview date.  Arrests, convictions or cautions impact U.S. visa eligibility:

  • Have you ever been arrested, convicted, or cautioned for a crime anywhere in the world, including drunk driving or an other alcohol related offense?
  • Have you ever been removed from or deported from the United States?
  • Have you ever been denied entry into the United States?
  • Have you ever overstayed beyond the period authorized by U.S. immigration?
  • Have you ever had any prior visa application denied?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you should consult with an attorney who is familiar with how any of these issues could impact your ability to be granted a visa to the U.S.
In it’s September 26, 2013 blog, U.S. Embassy London posted some frequently asked questions they receive that deal specifically with these issues:
Q:   I was arrested when I was 14, I’m over 18 now, do I still have to declare the arrest/caution?
A:   Yes, you do.  The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply under U.S. visa law.  If you have ever been arrested, even as a minor, you are required to declare the arrest when applying for a visa.  
Q:   I was given a speeding ticket, does this count as a caution?
A:   Applicants are not required to declare minor driving offenses, like speeding or tickets for not wearing a seat belt.  If you are not sure if your traffic offense is classed as “minor,” you should still declare it.
Q:   I have registered under ESTA, but I’ve been arrested since then, can I still travel visa free?
A:   If you previously answered “no” to the question, “Have you ever been arrested or convicted?” you should complete a new registration, ensuring that you now answer “Yes” to that question.  If your travel is not authorized through ESTA, you will be required to apply for a visa before traveling.  Please note that it may not be possible to make a determination on your eligibility for a visa until the disposition of the case against you is known.
Q:   I don’t think the offense I was convicted of is classed as a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT), do I have to declare it?
A:   Yes, you should declare all arrests, cautions, or convictions when applying for a visa.  A consular officer will adjudicate your eligibility for a visa.  If you require a waiver of ineligibility, you should be aware that that can take approximately six months from the date of the visa interview to complete your application.
Our Visa Team is familiar with visa processing procedures at Embassies and Consulates around the globe and our Attorneys can prepare waiver of ineligibility applications for any qualifying applicant.  Contact us to schedule a consultation.