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Q: Marrying an American citizen. ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Marrying an American citizen.
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: arizonakurt-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 18 Apr 2006 13:08 PDT
Expires: 18 May 2006 13:08 PDT
Question ID: 720280
While on holiday in the US last year I met a girl and we have been in
touch ever since I returned home to England. I plan to go back and see
her again and marriage is a possibility now. However I have a criminal
record in the UK. It is not for crimes of sex, drugs or violence,
and I have a clean record over the last 15 years, but will this
prevent me from marrying my girlfriend and staying in the US?
It would be difficult for her to come to England as she has young
children and they are better off where they are.
Any advice would be a great help before we get out hopes up.
Thank you,
Subject: Re: Marrying an American citizen.
Answered By: wonko-ga on 01 May 2006 12:55 PDT
While you have a criminal record in the UK, this does not necessarily
make you ineligible for a visa.  It does, however, make it much more
likely you will have to appear before a consular officer and plead
your case in order to obtain a visa.  My research indicates the
circumstances you describe give you a reasonable chance of at least
being allowed to apply for a waiver.  Obtaining professional advice
from an immigration attorney about how to conduct yourself during the
interview and what documentation to have available would likely be
invaluable to you and greatly increase your chances of success.

Unfortunately, without going through the entire application process,
there is no way to know whether or not you will be ineligible for a
visa.  I have provided you with detailed information below about the
application process, what actions each of you would need to take, and
links to the various forms.

I highly recommend the following to you to understand what the current
US law is regarding admission of aliens who have been convicted of

"Criminal Grounds of Inadmissibility (Exclusion)" by Henry J. Chang,
Chang & Boos (2006)

Good luck to you.



"Inadmissabilty into the united states on the basis of a criminal conviction.

In the event of an arrest/conviction for a criminal activity, an alien
travelling to the U S is required to apply for a visa to enter the
United States. The pertinent US consulate visa officer will then
decide whether the applicant may be granted the visa despite the
criminal conviction.

The visa officer would take certain pertinent factors into
consideration such as the egregiousness of the crime, the severity of
the given penalty, other criminal activity and how much time has
elapsed between the time the offence was committed and the visa

The emphasis is naturally on persuading the interviewing officer that
the applicant is an upstanding member of society who would not engage
in further criminal activity within the United States and generally
would not contravene the conditions relevant to the particular visa
being applied for."

"Information on US Visas" Solutions in Law (2004)

Here is the detailed procedure you would have to go through in order
to obtain a K-1 Fiance Visa.  The marriage would have to take place
within 90 days of your entry into the United States.

1) Your future spouse files Form I-129F - Petition for Alien Fiance
with the USCIS, which can be obtained at  This must
include a Form G-325A Biographic Data Sheet, which can be obtained at, for each of
you, and a color photo of each of you taken within 30 days of filing. 
Forms are available by calling 1-800-870-3676 or via the links I have

You and your fiancee must provide proof of being eligible to marry one
another and evidence that you have met in person within the last two
years before filing for the visa.

The petition is filed at the USCIS Service Center serving the US
citizen's area of residence.  A list of "Service Center Offices by
State" is available at

2) Once the petition is approved, it is sent to the embassy or
consulate having jurisdiction over your place of residence.

3) You then apply for a K-1 Visa using Forms DS-156 and DS-156K. As
was noted in the Comments, question 38 of the Form DS-156 deals with
criminal convictions.

4) Because of your criminal record, you will almost certainly have to
appear for a formal visa interview before a consular officer.  If you
are deemed eligible, you will be instructed how to apply for a waiver
of permanent ineligibility.
Additional Sources:

"How Do I Bring My FiancÚ(e) to the United States?" U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services (January 20, 2006)

"Application Procedures: Bringing a FiancÚ(e) to Live in the United
States" U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (January 20, 2006)

"Nonimmigrant Fiance(e) Visa Application" U.S. Department of State
(July 2004)

"Nonimmigrant Visa Application" U.S. Department of State

"Under U.S. visa law some people are permanently ineligible to receive
an immigrant visa and are not eligible to enter the United States
unless they have obtained a waiver of the permanent ineligibility.
These include persons who have been afflicted with a disease of public
health significance, including those who are HIV-positive, a mental
disorder which is associated with a display of harmful behavior, drug
addicts/abusers, and those with criminal records. The Rehabilitation
of Offenders Act does not apply to U.S. visa law. Anyone who has been
arrested and/or convicted of any offense, regardless of when it may
have occurred, is required to declare the arrest and/or conviction. A
determination on a person's eligibility for a visa cannot be made
until the day of the formal visa interview. If the applicant is found
ineligible for a visa, the consular officer will advise the applicant
if he/she is eligible to apply for a waiver of the permanent
ineligibility and of the steps which must be taken to apply for and
process the waiver."

"K-1 Visa - For Fiance(e)s" Embassy of the United States London UK

"General Waiver for Nonimmigrants" by Henry J. Chang, Chang & Boos

Search terms:  K-1 visa criminal conviction
Subject: Re: Marrying an American citizen.
From: frde-ga on 18 Apr 2006 14:17 PDT
I believe it is, in the UK, actually an offence to even ask about
convictions over 10 years old.

Answerfinder-ga could clarify that

If that is so (which it darn well is), then you should be fine - under UK law.

- personally I would go for an extended holiday
- get a real feel of things
Subject: Re: Marrying an American citizen.
From: answerfinder-ga on 19 Apr 2006 02:57 PDT
I cannot answer your question, but regarding frde's comment, even if
you have a spent conviction you still have to declare it to apply for
a visa.

The below page and other pages on the site may be of help.

"The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to United States
visa law. Therefore, even travelers with a spent conviction are
required to declare the arrest and/or conviction."

Form DS-156 application for a Visa.

"Question 38
Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime,
even though subject of a pardon, amnesty or other similar legal
action? Have you ever unlawfully distributed or sold a controlled
substance(drug), or been a prostitute or procurer for prostitutes?
While a YES answer does not automatically signify ineligibility for a
visa, if you answered YES you may be required to personally appear
before a consular officer."


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