Police Certificates and the US
The US has strict requirements on what they require foreign nationals to disclose when travelling to their shores. For example when applying for an ESTA under the Visa Waiver Programme the following questions are asked:
Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority? Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?
The US embassy’s website also states that even people who don’t have a caution or conviction, namely just an arrest record, should not travel under an ESTA:
We do not recommend that travelers who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, have a criminal record, certain serious communicable illness, have been refused admission into, or have been deported from, the United States, or have previously overstayed under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, attempt to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to US visa law and spent convictions,regardless of when they occurred will have a bearing on a traveler’s eligibility for admission into the United States.
In 2017, with respect to US nationals, the USA and the UK entered into an agreement to “improve information sharing”. The memorandum of understanding between the USA Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the UK ACRO Criminal Records Office means that ACRO will send the FBI details of USA nationals convicted in the UK and vice versa; both organisations will respond to requests about either countries’ nationals who have criminal records in the USA or the UK.
If you are planning on staying long term in the US you will need to go through the formal visa application process. As part of the visa application process you will usually be asked to provide a police certificate issued by ACRO.
A police certificate will display any “unspent” criminal records (cautions and convictions). If your records are “spent” your certificate will state “no live trace”.
A “no live trace” record will tell the US authorities that you have at some point in time received either a caution or conviction.
If however you have only ever simply been arrested, and no caution or conviction was resulted, your police certificate should state “no trace”. Your arrest will nevertheless still be recorded on the PNC and will be potentially disclosed if a “legitimate request” is made to the UK authorities.
Police Certificates and Deletion of Police Cautions
If you have a police caution on your PNC record, or an arrest record, and you are worried about its impact on immigration to the United States of America, or any other country, then please get in touch.
If your case is related to immigration to the United States of America, we have excellent links with attorneys based in New York, and will often strategise a case in coordination with an immigration application.
We have successfully applied for the expungement of many police cautions, and other police records, in the past.
Once a caution is expunged from the PNC, the related police certificate will return a “no trace” outcome.
Please get in touch to arrange an initial consultation if you have any police record or DBS related issue.