Policy Regarding Criminal Cautions and Visas is Clarified

In a transcript from the Jan. 29, 2014, web chat with U.S. Embassy London, it was noted that the Department of State is clarifying its policy regarding criminal cautions in the United Kingdom as they relate to visa issuance. “Currently, U.S. government policy is under review regarding criminal cautions in the United Kingdom. Applicants having a caution may experience lengthy delays during the application process.”

The Embassy advises that individuals applying for nonimmigrant visas — including L-1, H-1B, O-1 and P-1 categories — apply for their visa as soon as possible and do not make final travel plans until they have their visa in hand.

Additional points:

  • These reviews will still apply to individuals even if they have received a nonimmigrant visa in London after previously disclosing the caution.
  • This applies to all nonimmigrant visa categories, including tourist visas.
  • The Embassy can offer no timeframes as to when this review will be complete or when additional guidance will be forthcoming.

What is a UK criminal caution?

Generally speaking, cautions can be given to anyone age 10 or older for minor crimes. It is a formal alternative to prosecution in minor cases, administered by the police and other law enforcement agencies in England and Wales, and in Hong Kong. The subject of the caution must admit to the offense and agree to be cautioned. If the individual does not agree, he or she can be arrested and charged with the crime.

A caution is not a criminal conviction, but it can be used as evidence of bad character if the individual goes to court for another crime. A police caution is commonly used to resolve cases where full prosecution is not seen as the most appropriate solution. All cautions must be disclosed when applying for a visa to the United States.

Note: You can read more about disclosing criminal convictions and cautions in our previous blog: How do arrests, convictions or cautions impact U.S. visa eligibility? 

What can you do?

The U.S. Department of State encourages all applicants for nonimmigrant visas to process those applications at an embassy or consulate office in their home countries. If you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in London and are concerned that an issue in your past may result in lengthy delays, schedule a consultation  to speak with one of our visa attorneys.

Our Visa Services Division is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to provide analysis, alternatives and guidance to those individuals impacted by this ongoing review process. You can read more about how Berardi Immigration Law can assist in our blog, Easing the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Process.

If you have a question regarding criminal cautions or any immigration-related concerns, please schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys today!

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