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Criminal Convictions

I have been arrested in the past. Can I travel visa free?

No. Persons who have a history of arrest are ineligible for visa free travel. You will be required to apply for a visa to determine if you are eligible to travel to the United States. With your visa application you will be required to submit all relevant court records together with a detailed English translation. If you do not have this documentation, you should contact the court authorities in the municipality that handled your case to request a copy. Because your application may take several weeks or months to process, you should apply well in advance of your proposed travel date and not purchase tickets or make final travel plans until your passport has been returned to you.

Why does the application take so long to process?

Applications of persons with convictions require additional processing that involves the Department of Homeland Security, a separate government agency to the Department of State.

I have a conviction. I have applied for a visa at the Embassy / Consulate in the past. Am I required to furnish a new memorandum of conviction?

Even if you have applied for a visa in the past at the Embassy or Consulate you will be required to supply all court documents related to your arrest and conviction.

I have a criminal conviction in the United States. How can I obtain a copy of the court record?

Contact the court where you were convicted. Court records must show the nature of the offense(s) committed, the section(s) of law contravened and the actual penalty imposed.

If the arrest did not result in a conviction, or you are unable to obtain a copy of the court record(s) relating to the charges against you, you may submit with your application a sworn statement that gives the location – state and county – and the reason for the arrest. If the arrest resulted in a conviction, the statement should explain the nature of the offense committed, section of the law contravened and penalty imposed by the court(s).

I do not know the address of the court in the United States.

If you do not know the address of the court, you may be able to find the information you require from the internet at http://www.refdesk.com/.

After receiving my visa, I was convicted of an offense. Can I travel on the visa or am I required to apply for a new one?

You are required to apply for a new visa, furnishing a copy of the court record with your application.

How does the Immigration Officer at the Port of Entry know if a traveler has been arrested?

Immigration officers at the port of entry have access to various information sources. It is not recommended that travelers, who have been arrested and/or convicted of an offense, attempt to conceal this information from a consular officer or immigration inspector as they may face severe consequences as a result.

What will happen if I do not divulge a prior arrest?

Travelers who misrepresent a material fact to a consular officer or immigration inspector may be found permanently ineligible for admission into the United States.

More information on Court Records