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Going overseas

Some countries require you to disclose any past arrests or convictions on visa applications. Laws vary from country to country, and you should call the relevant consulate or embassy to find out the approach taken to convictions by each particular country. Two examples are as follows:

United States

After 2001, the United States passed new laws that affected some aspects of the non-immigrant visa process and entry - exit procedures. In addition to being satisfied that the applicant intends to honour the terms of the visa by returning home, the consular officer must evaluate the security risk presented by the applicant. Visa applications take longer to process.

Application forms for US tourist or work visas ask the applicant whether he or she has ever been arrested for an offence, even if pardoned or the subject of an amnesty. When applying for your visa you must declare your criminal record and state the date of the offence, the wording of the charge and the punishment. Every application is assessed on its own merits.

The Embassy usually overlooks "misdemeanors" (similar to our summary offences). To get more information contact the US Embassy or go to the Destination USA website.

United Kingdom

Australian citizens with or without criminal convictions can enter the UK without applying for a visa if they are planning to stay for less than 6 months.

If you are applying for a visa (called an Entry Clearance Certificate) for longer than 6 months you must declare your criminal record and provide documentation regarding the conviction with your application form. An Examiner, who decides whether a visa will be granted, then assesses your application.

Minor offences that have only attracted a fine will usually be overlooked. If you have spent 6Â30 months in jail, you will have to wait until your conviction is spent before you can enter the UK. For more information contact the British Consulate General in Canberra on Tel: 1902 941 555.