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FAQs: Criminal records and emigration


Why are criminal records relevant for emigration?

When you decide to emigrate, you will be asked by your new country for information prior to being allowed to enter on a visa. Much of this information is purely for administrative purposes, and is designed to ascertain information about you that is relevant for your stay, such as your work, skills and financial support. Most countries will also ask if you have a criminal record, and your answer may well affect your ability to emigrate to a particular country.

How can a criminal record affect my ability to emigrate?

When applying for a visa, the Embassy or High Commission of a country will ask for disclosures relating to your character, or may ask for direct evidence of previous criminal convictions. You will normally provide this by requesting a Police Certificate that details past criminal convictions. The effect of a criminal record on a visa application will vary from country to country.

What sorts of offences will affect my ability to emigrate?

The sorts of offences you have committed will affect your ability to gain entry to various countries in different ways. Serious offences, such as those receiving life imprisonment, those with a jail term of greater than 12 months, and multiple convictions are all considered to substantially affect your emigration chances. 

Will drug offences on my criminal record affect emigration?

Some countries take a particularly strong stance on those with previous convictions for drug offences. This is particularly the case for those looking to emigrate to the United States with a drug conviction, who will almost certainly be denied a long term visa entry under most circumstances, even for minor drug offences. 

How can I best determine my eligibility for emigration with a criminal record?

The visa requirements for each individual country vary, and so for those with a criminal record it is best to approach the subject of emigration by discussing your plans with an experienced emigration lawyer. They will be able to give tailored legal advice based on your individual circumstances, and may be able to explain ways to mitigate your record to improve your chances of successful emigration. 
If you would like to obtain legal advice on criminal records and emigration, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 0800 177 7162 or complete the web-form above.
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