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FAQs: Criminal records and visas


Why is a criminal record important when applying for a visa?

A criminal record can affect you in different ways when trying to enter a country; in many instances you will be required to apply for a visa prior to travelling because of your convictions. Further it is possible some countries including the UK may decide not to grant a visa depending on the severity and nature of the crime.

I have an old conviction - is that relevant?

You should check whether your conviction is considered spent, to do this you should consult the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which states how long it takes for every conviction to be spent. Even if you have a spent conviction it is advised that you still disclose it as it may still affect your visa application, especially as not all countries recognise the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

I have points on my driving licence - does that count as a criminal record? 

Although for most people, having points on your licence wouldn’t register as a criminal conviction, it should still be disclosed on any visa application. The UK Border Agency for example will take it into account as part of a character assessment to sponsor someone coming into the country.

I have a previous conviction - can I visit America under the Visa Waiver Program?

Although the UK is one of the 37 countries who are part of the Visa Waiver Program, in order to take advantage of not obtaining a visa you will need to sign a form to declare you have no previous convictions. Therefore, unfortunately you won’t be able to use the program.

How could a solicitor help me?

A solicitor will be able to advise you whether any conviction you have is considered spent and the likely effect it will have on any of your travel plans They will also be able to advise you what you need to disclose and give you assistance in filling out the relevant forms.
If you would like to obtain legal advice on criminal records and visas, Caven can put you in touch with a local 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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