Traveling To The United States With A Criminal Record


Has someone brought a criminal charge against you? A criminal record truly adds a blemish to your life. It hampers the career, fame, and several other things in your life. However, does it prevent you from visiting the USA? You may like to visit the United States as a temporary visitor for pleasure, business, and any other purpose. But, the question is-

Do you need to take any special steps to access the country?

In most cases, foreign nationals visiting the USA for recreation and temporary business stay need to have B visas (visitor visas). They can apply for these visas at the consulate/US embassies in their home countries.

Unfortunately, the process to apply for a B visa is not easy for someone having a criminal record. According to the latest US immigration law, foreign travelers having different criminal records cannot gain entry to the USA. Thus, they will not get any type of visa to travel the country. 

Types of criminal allegations preventing visa entrants from accessing the US

Not every crime can result in ineligibility to your B visa. For instance, a single record of drunk driving will not make you ineligible for the visa. But, due to your dangerous behavior and alcoholism, you may have medical ineligibility.  

Drug crimes, theft crimes, drug crimes, tax fraud, and other serious crimes (causing the death of a person and damage to properties) will cause visa ineligibility. Thus, before applying for the visa, you need to focus on the type of crime you committed in the past.

Can you purchase a gun with a criminal record?

Similar to the USA visa, there are some restrictions to your purchase of a gun, especially when you have a criminal record. You need to go through a background check and submit fingerprints to buy a gun. However, the rules of every state are different. According to the laws in Oregon, a convicted person cannot own and purchase firearms.

How will your criminal record be disclosed?

During your visa application process, you need to submit your fingerprints. The law enforcement databases have the record of fingerprints of all criminals. Thus, while checking and matching your fingerprints, it will be easy to identify your criminal convictions.

Moreover, consulates and US embassies use different methods to get the foreign law enforcement details. These are publicly available records in several countries. Thus, you must not try to conceal and tell a lie about your criminal records. It will cause permanent ineligibility for the US visa due to misrepresentation.

Visa ineligibility and waivers

There are some exceptions, according to US immigration law. Thus, you have a chance of getting your visa approval, although you have a criminal record. When your jail sentence was less than 1 year and you were convicted of a single crime, one crime, you could take advantage of the exception.

In some cases, while the sentencing exception is not applicable for the foreign traveler, the US government can waiver inadmissibility. Thus, foreign visitors have some ways of entering the country despite their criminal records. The visa will be valid for a single trip for a limited period.

Criminal inadmissibility rules are relevant to any type of visa (not simply for tourists). Thus, when you have criminal records, and you think of visiting the USA as a temporary worker/student, you can look for a waiver.

How will you obtain the waiver of visa inadmissibility?

To obtain a waiver, you have to fulfill other visa requirements. For instance, to be eligible for a tourist visa, you have to convince the consular officer that you will be back in your homeland after the permitted stay. Then, the officer will make a decision while you have fulfilled the major visa requirements. However, in case of a recently committed crime, you may not get the waiver.

Moreover, the officer will identify the reason for your visit to the US. For instance, when you have a 10-year old criminal record of possessing some marijuana, you will receive a waiver.

Your request for the waiver will reach the Admissibility Review Office, and this inadmissibility waiver is known as the 212(d)(3) waiver.

ARO will assess a range of factors while deciding on the waiver. It mostly checks-

  •         the potential of any danger for permitting the convicted foreign national to the USA
  •         the severity of the crime
  •         the reason for traveling to the USA

You may not need to provide compelling reasons. It is easy to get the waiver approval if you think of entering the country only to visit the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, and some other places. You do not always need to show an emergency reason (the illness of your close relative).

Thus, you have to know about some legal rules to apply for visa to enter the USA with a past criminal record. Get prepared to enjoy a temporary stay in the USA. You can use vacation rental software to look for houses for rent.