Everyone makes mistakes. That includes police officers. They are after all, human like the rest of us. In the US, when a person is arrested and later it is found out that the person did not commit the crime, the person is released. Sometimes the arrest stays on his or her record, however it also states that the person was released because they were not guilty. In California, a person is able to petition the court to have the arrest record removed since the person was not guilty of the crime.
This raises a question, if you are arrested in your home country and are found innocent, should you disclose this information when applying for a visa?
The short answer is yes you should. The following reason explain why you should.
I mentioned the above scenario because if a person is arrested in his or her home country, even if innocent, the person's arrest record may remain. This is why it is important to disclose any arrest that you may have. It is better for you to disclose that you were arrested for a crime and later it was determined that you were innocent than have the US government find this out.
This is because failure to disclose this information may lead the US government to believe that you are dishonest, or at the very least not forthcoming with important information. This may lead the US government to look at your application (visa, adjustment of status, etc.) with more scrutiny.
It is entirely possible that the US government will never find out about any arrest you may have, however its not worth the risk. Technology is changing and more and more governments are willing to share criminal records with each other. If you are not forthcoming with information such as arrest, it may affect you in the future when you are applying for an adjustment of status.
Most importantly, disclosing this information will probably not have an affect on your file. An exception to this may be if during the arrest, you were made associated with a criminal organizations or any groups that are of national threat to the USA.
If this is the case, the US government could make request to INTERPOL (an international police association where governments from all over the world have treaties to share criminal records and information) to retrieve any criminal arrest or connections you have.
Finally, if you are attempting to obtain a visa, the US government will likely have you submit a police clearance record for any country you lived in. Disclosing any arrest, including arrest where you were found innocent would also give you the opportunity to explain the circumstances of the arrest and how it was dispositioned.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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