Getting a Police Clearance Letter for Your Visa Case
Almost every person that applies for an immigration visa is required to submit a police certificate/clearance letter. (There are of course many other documents to send along with your immigrant visa application.)
What is a police certificate/clearance letter? It is an official letter from law enforcement in your country that states whether or not you have a criminal record. Below is a brief explanation of why that is important.
Why You Need a Police Clearance Letter
When someone wants to live in the U.S. permanently, he or she ha to prove that they have not engaged in illegal conduct that the law says makes them ineligible for a green card. Thus, if an immigrant visa applicant has been arrested by police or other law enforcement, then the NVC and the consulate wants to know about it.
The NVC and consular officers are unable to accept the Applicant’s word that she or she has never been arrested or convicted of a crime. That is why a police certificate is requested from most every Applicant.
Who Needs a Police Clearance Letter and Where to Get it
Not every applicant is required to produce a police certificate and some will need to obtain more than one. If the Applicant is under the age of 16, then the NVC and consulate officers do not require a police certificate. This makes the process easier for younger immigrants.
For others, however, the process can be a bit more complicated. That’s because the law requires applicants to obtain police certificates for your country of nationality, as well as any country where you lived for more than six months, and any country where you were arrested.
Here’s an example: Suppose I was born in Iran and moved to the United Kingdom (UK) when I was 17 years old. I went to university in the UK and then later worked in other European countries, including France for two years and Italy for another two years. I have never been arrested.
In this example, I need four police certificates, from Iran, the United Kingdom, France and Italy! Each country has different procedures for getting the police certificate. This of course will make the process more complicated and for the person in our example.
Here is a useful chart from the Department of State on the countries from which you’ll need a police certificate: