Past Criminal Behavior and Visa Applications

Visas Applicants with a criminal background, beware! – think before you sling that rock, stab your neighbor, punch your friend, sell controlled substances or neglect to pay your taxes.

Once you have been arrested and/or a police investigation has been initiated against you, you may find your Visa Application to the United States (or any other country) to be under heightened scrutiny – often times resulting in a Denial of your Application.

When you apply for a visa you must answer all questions truthfully including the seemingly endless list of questions at the end of the application regarding (among other things) your criminal past, membership or contribution to terrorist organizations, or taking action against the religious freedom of another. The questions do not differentiate between crimes committed two decades ago or yesterday, nor do they differentiate between crimes and convictions that have been expunged or pardoned – although the Consul’s Decision may ultimately make this distinction. Closed Investigations that were never prosecuted do not indicate that the crimes were not committed unless the reason for closing the investigation was grounded in no guilt. If a file is closed for lack of Public Interest or for lack of evidence, it does not mean that the elements of the crime were not committed but rather that the file was eventually closed for the sake of expedience.

The bottom line is you have to declare and further face the consequences of your prior behavior, some of which, however trifling or righteous in your opinion, may result in a Denial of your Visa Application when you are deemed ineligible for a visa and/or inadmissible to the United States.

Some offences may not prove an obstacle to obtaining a visa but many others will result in a Denial (many times permanently where Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude are involved) or a Denial pending a Waiver from the Department of Homeland Security. If an Applicant is Ineligible for a Visa, the Consul cannot issue a visa unless a Waiver of Ineligibility if first approved. The Consul will inform the Applicant if, under the circumstances, he or she may apply for a Waiver and often the Waiver will ultimately be approved if the Consul is convinced of the merit in the Waiver request and agrees to recommend a Waiver to the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of the Applicant.

Although in most cases, the Consul’s recommendation will eventually result in an Approval of the Waiver and Visa, this is not always true. The waiting time for a Decision in the case may be as long as six to twelve months (or more).

When applying for a Visa and/or Waiver, you may be required to bring in a Record of Criminal Past or Court Records. It is unlikely that “your version” of the circumstances will take precedence over a Criminal or Court Record; although, when requesting a Waiver the amount of time that has passed, expunging or pardoning may be mitigating factors in a final Decision, as well as proof of rehabilitation.

Since every sovereign country has the prerogative in deciding who shall be admitted to the country, it is not unreasonable to assume that perpetrators of particular crimes and problematic behavior, posing a potential threat to the welfare and order the county, will ultimately be denied a Visa and/or Entry to the country.

For more information visit our page Waivers or Contact Us