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Criminal Convictions

Criminal Convictions

Applicants who have been arrested or charged with a crime are advised to apply for a visa well in advance of your intended date of travel. Please note this includes any offences involving the possession or use of a controlled substance. You will need to provide details of your conviction in the form of court records. Be aware that it is your responsibility to obtain these records should they be required.

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, the interviewing consular officer will decide on whether or not to 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. 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 can take six to eight months so it is strongly advised that you not make any travel bookings prior to receipt of the visa.

Travelers with Criminal Records

Convictions for certain crimes may make you ineligible to travel to the U.S. with the exception of a single DIC/DUI (see below). The only way to know for sure if your criminal record makes you ineligible is to apply for a visa. Only a consular officer can determine your visa eligibility. Please note that New Zealand’s Clean Slate Act does not apply to U.S. visa law. If you have a criminal record and attempt to travel without a visa, you may be refused entry into the United States.

You need to bring a copy of your Criminal History Report with you to the visa interview. The administration of criminal records is the responsibility of the New Zealand Ministry of Justice. You should use the "Priv/F1 - Request by Individual" form found on the Ministry of Justice website and follow the instructions listed there. Be sure to tick the box for your full record of convictions.

Even if your conviction makes you ineligible to travel to the U.S., you may be able to obtain a temporary waiver of this ineligibility. You should discuss this with the consular officer at the time of the interview. Waiver processing can take more than 6-8 months, so if you think you may require a waiver, please apply early. We always recommend you do not make any financial commitments for travel until you have received a visa.

A special note about applicants with DRINK DRIVING convictions: According to USCBP applicants with a single DIC/DUI conviction is NOT grounds to deny entry into the U.S;  however, multiple DIC/DUI convictions or a DIC/DUI conviction in combination with other misdemeanor offenses can make a person inadmissible and require a waiver prior to entering the United States. 

If you have had any minor traffic offenses which did not result in an arrest or conviction, you may use the VWP, provided you are otherwise qualified. If the traffic offense occurred while you were in the United States, and you have an outstanding fine against you or you did not attend your court hearing, it is possible there may be a warrant out for your arrest. You should resolve these issues before traveling by contacting the court where you were to appear. If you do not know the address of the court, information is available from the Internet at www.uscourts.gov/links.html.