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Criminal Convictions

Arrests and Convictions

Updated 19 December 2014

We recommend that anyone who have ever been arrested and/or convicted of an offense apply for a visa.  In cases where the arrest resulted in a conviction, the individual may be permanently ineligible to receive a visa and in order to travel, a waiver of the permanent ineligibility is required. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to United States visa law. Therefore, even travelers with a spent conviction are required to declare the arrest and/or conviction and apply for a visa. 

Documents relating to your arrest and/or conviction

Applicants are required to furnish an ACRO Police Certificate issued within 6 months of the date of the visa interview. Information on obtaining the police certificate is available from ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) website. This Police Certificate covers the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is sent to the address provided at the time of the application. 

All applicants who have been arrested should also complete the personal data form VCU1 (PDF), and should provide as much detail as possible concerning their arrests/cautions/convictions, including those in a third country. 

Important Notice for Applicants applying at the U.S. Embassy in London.  The original police certificate will be retained on file by the Embassy. Applicants who wish to have the original document returned to them on the day of the interview should also bring a photocopy of the document and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Offenses committed in the United States

If you were arrested and/or convicted of an offense in the United States, you are required to obtain a court record from the court(s) in which you were tried. Such court records must show the nature of the offense(s) committed or which are currently pending against you, if relevant, the section(s) of law contravened and the actual penalty imposed.  If the arrest did not result in a conviction, you may submit with your application the documents relating to the arrest. If you are no longer in possession of these documents, you may submit a sworn statement which gives the reason and location of the arrest, state and county. If you do not know the address of the court, the information is available from the internet at http://www.uscourts.gov/links.html .  Applicants are also required to obtain a Police Certificate from ACRO issued within 6 months of the visa interview.

Offenses committed in a country other than the United States or the United Kingdom

If you were arrested and/or convicted of an offense, you are required to obtain a court record from the court(s) in which you were tried. Such court records must show the nature of the offense(s) committed, or which are currently pending against you, if relevant, the section(s) of law contravened and the actual penalty imposed. If the arrest did not result in a conviction, you may submit with your application the documents relating to the arrest. If you are no longer in possession of these documents, you may submit a sworn statement which gives reason and location of the arrest, state and county. Applicants are also required to obtain a Police Certificate from ACRO issued within 6 months of the visa interview.

Applicants who are found ineligible to receive a visa

If the conviction(s) results in the applicant being found permanently ineligible to receive a visa, it will mean a lifetime exclusion from the United States unless he or she obtains a waiver of the permanent ineligibility from the United States Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (DHSCBP). The granting of a waiver is not automatic and is based on several factors, including nature of the crime committed, sentence served and the period of time which has elapsed since the conviction.

If a favorable recommendation is made to DHSCBP for a waiver of the permanent ineligibility, the application will take approximately 6 months to process; some applications may take longer.

Please note: Delays in processing can and will occur. The processing times quoted are approximate and cannot be guaranteed. It is important that you keep this in mind when applying for the visa. It will not be possible to expedite a case simply because an applicant has not allowed sufficient time for the application to be processed.