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If a UK citizen was arrested on suspicion of a serious offence against property 30 years ago, tried, and acquitted, then they should answer "yes" when they apply for a US visa and are asked whether they have been arrested or convicted. But how can they provide confirmation of their criminal record when they haven't actually got a criminal record?

Note: the US visa application form DS-160 asks "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even though subject of a pardon, amnesty or similar action?". But it makes no reference to acquittal, which is not similar to a pardon or amnesty, because acquitted people are recognised to be innocent, whereas those who are pardoned or amnestied are not.

Furthermore, if you answer "yes" to that question, you are asked to fill in a VCU1. The authors of that form too seem oblivious to the possibility that a defendant might be acquitted, since they ask people who have been arrested or convicted of an offence to state what their "sentence" was. If you are convicted then of course you will be given a sentence. But if you are found to be not guilty than that means legally you are innocent, just as innocent as if you had never been arrested in the first place - indeed, just as innocent as all the billions of people in the world who weren't arrested for the offence - and of course you are not given a sentence.

I should add that the ACPO certificate to which the VCU1 refers is a British police certificate specifically meant for people who are applying for visas to travel to foreign countries. That certificate lists only information regarding a person's criminal record. In other words, it lists details regarding their convictions in court and it also lists other official actions which have taken place if the person has admitted guilt but no trial has taken place - actions such as reprimands, cautions and warnings. It does not say "this person was arrested by the police on suspicion of committing crime X, they denied committing it, they were tried by a court, and the court agreed with the person that they did not commit it". It does not contain any information regarding such offences.

11

What should a UK citizen say when applying for a US visa if they were arrested ... and acquitted

On online form DS-160 where it asks `

Have you ever been arrested

answer Yes.


if you answer "yes" to that question, you are asked to fill in a VCU1.

Fill in VCU1.

they ask people who have been arrested or convicted of an offence to state what their "sentence" was.

Write None - acquitted.

If the form asks you to attach or send an ACPO certificate, do so, even if it is blank. If you request an ACPO certificate and the response is something other than an ACPO certificate, include that response instead.


Continue in this vein. Be truthful, be brief, be complete. Put aside for now any feelings of irritation, annoyance, injustice, affront, injury.

I would remember that my current objective is to obtain a visa from the machine, I am not trying to educate the US or their officials, make their country better for them or deliver a lecture or essay on the shortcomings of their processes. My current objective is not to explain to them how their process makes me feel or the injustice or apparent stupidity of it. Its a machine, I press the buttons, answer honestly and briefly, get the visa, move on.

Many people want to visit the USA. If the entry process is too onerous or offensive to our dignity, the world is big and full of interesting and beautiful places that welcome visitors. Chill.

8

But how can they provide confirmation of their criminal record when they haven't actually got a criminal record?

I don't know precisely how "criminal record" is defined in the UK, but it's not actually relevant for visa applications. As you've already noted, you have to answer "yes" to the question about arrests and convictions. You will then be expected to explain what happened.

Your explanation will be most credible if you include documentary evidence of your arrest, trial, and acquittal. In particular, evidence of your acquittal will be important to the success of your application.

I would advise you to include a copy of your police record. If your arrest has been expunged from the police record, you should still include it to show that you haven't been arrested at any other time. If the arrest was in fact expunged, explaining why or how that happened will also be a good idea.

I suppose that if the arrest were expunged you'd still have the ability to get records relating to it through the Data Protection Act; that's probably not necessary since you'll have your court records, but it can't hurt.

To support your claim that you were acquitted, you should include some court records from the trial. In particular, if you have an official document from the court announcing your acquittal, you should most likely include that.

(There have been a few questions here from people who assumed that they could answer "no" about being arrested or convicted because their arrest record was expunged, or charges were never pressed, or because they entered a guilty plea rather than being convicted. The fact that you've already recognized that you must answer "yes" to this question means you're doing a lot better than many in your position.)

EDIT:

An edit to the question asks about the VCU1:

The authors of that form too seem oblivious to the possibility that a defendant might be acquitted, since they ask people who have been arrested or convicted of an offence to state what their "sentence" was.

The obvious course of action in this case is to write in the "sentence" column the word "acquitted."

That certificate lists only information regarding a person's criminal record. In other words, it lists details regarding their convictions in court and any other official actions which have taken place once the person has admitted committing a crime, namely reprimands, cautions and warnings. It does not say "this person was arrested by the police on suspicion of committing crime X, they denied committing it, they were tried by a court, and the court agreed with the person that they did not commit it".

In that case, it seems your ACPO certificate will be blank. Your application will therefore be that much stronger. Include the blank ACPO certificate, and list your arrest in section 2, as instructed.

So it does not contain any information regarding an offence that the police arrested a person on suspicion of, and for which the person was later found by a court to be not guilty.

The fact that the arrest associated with your acquittal won't be listed on the certificate is the reason you'll need to list it in section 2 of the VCU1 form. Its instructions say:

Section Two: Fill in this section if the police certificate ... does not list, in full, your arrests/cautions/convictions.

3

The question is a pretty straight forward yes/no situation. "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even though subject of a pardon, amnesty or similar action?" Either you have or you haven't. They aren't asking if you have a "criminal record" or a "police record" or any other name you want to attach to your arrest record. they are asking a simple yes or no, have you been arrested OR convicted.

The US is primarily concerned about crimes involving drugs, prostitution, murder and terrorism (don't ask me why number 2 is considered so heinous).

As any court records on your case would show you as acquitted, you really have nothing much to worry about, other than the mental anguish this past event still brings you today.

  • indeed, ...the anguish and a hellova pointless internet argument. – Fattie Sep 9 '16 at 12:59
  • The US is concerned with prostitution due to obvious reasons - the toll it takes on millions of (mainly) women. – Quora Feans Sep 11 '16 at 12:17
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I suggest the moderators remove this question, because the OP is not interested in the answer, he is interested in arguing about it.

The word "or" serves as a disjunction in English. Every once in a while, there's a legal issue about whether it is inclusive or exclusive.

Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime, even though subject of a pardon, amnesty or similar action? [emphasis added]

In some jurisdictions, it is possible to expunge even the arrest record. Even in that case, it is better to say one has been arrested and the record expunged, since it is not necessarily erased in a literal sense from police records. In the absence of an expungement, there is no question whatsoever that this sentence requires people who have been arrested and acquitted to so state. Incidentally, that's my personal policy as well as the plain meaning, because I have been arrested but the charges were dropped "in the interests of justice". And I kept that judgment deep in a file somewhere on the off-chance I would need it.

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