Arrests and/or Convictions
How they affect your application for a nonimmigrant visa
Australian applicants that have been arrested for or charged with a crime, including offences involving the use of a controlled substance, are advised to apply for a visa prior to travel. Individuals who have been convicted of minor traffic violations (such as speeding), or with drink driving convictions generally do not need to apply for a visa provided they are otherwise eligible to travel on the Visa Waiver Program and receive approval via the Electronic System of Travel Authorization.
Most short term visitors who are traveling for business or pleasure apply for a B-1/B-2 Business/Tourist visa. Visa applicants must appear in person for an interview at the U.S. Consulate serving the state in which they reside. Consulates are located in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Further details on how to apply for a visa can be found on our website.
At your visa interview, a consular officer will determine whether or not you are eligible for a U.S. visa. We are not able to advise whether or not you are eligible for a visa in advance of the interview.
Should you be found ineligible, there is the possibility that the interviewing consular officer may submit a request for a waiver of your ineligibility. This request is made on your behalf to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Admissibility Review Office (ARO) in the United States. The recommendation for a waiver is at the discretion of the interviewing consular officer and will be based on the nature, recency, and severity of your offense(s).
Approval of a waiver is currently taking over 27 weeks, and you will need to provide details of your conviction in the form of court records or an Australian Police Certificate. Be aware that it is your responsibility to obtain these records should they be required.
As a general guide, a Consular Officer will not recommend a waiver within 5 years of the completion of a sentence, nor for applicants convicted of serious felonies such as murder or kidnapping. This timeframe should only be used as a guide, as there is no set time that must have passed.
Extra requirements when applying for a visa
When completing the DS-160 application form you must provide information on each offense, including the type of offense, your court date, and the outcome of the case. Police certificates must be based on any/all previously used names or aliases. If your police certificate says "no disclosable court outcomes" but you have committed a crime, you must provide court documents reflecting the charge.
Please note that obtaining court records or a police certificate does not guarantee that you will be granted a visa, and you must bear any expenses involved in the further processing of your application. It is your decision whether to obtain court records and/or a police certificate in advance of your visa appointment, or to wait until after your interview for confirmation of what you will need to submit. You will need to weigh the costs and time involved in acquiring records before the interview against the possible delay in the visa process after the interview, should time be needed to acquire records. Also, bear in mind that, once you submit records of your offense, we may then need to request a waiver of any visa ineligibilities for you from the United States as outlined above, which can take more than 27 weeks.
Please refer to the following information on obtaining a police certificate in Australia.