Tier 4 visa (US to UK). What should I know?
June 7, 2014 7:24 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to know and be prepared for when applying for a tier 4 visa to relocate from the US to the UK? How will my (totally minor and mundane, youthful, etc.) criminal record come into play, and how can I get in front of any potential issues?

Relocating from the US to the UK on a tier 4 visa as a student. I can see the tier 4 requirements, and feel confident that I'll meet them, but the lack of appeals options following a rejection freaks me out. How can I make my application with more confidence?

Specifically, what should I know about prior criminal record in the US? I had a few run-ins as a teen/early 20s ruffian, but these were all over 10 years ago, and no felonies or anything serious; a couple misdemeanor charges for minor weed possession as a teen (having a joint in my pocket, TWICE!), a misdemeanor trespass charge at 22 (wrong place, wrong time), and a violation for driving without proof of insurance at 25 (had insurance, just did not have proof in my vehicle, so it was easily sorted in court). I've had most of this stuff expunged, in my late 20s, but I am curious about how to handle this on my visa app. Since I can't recall dates/years of these run-ins, and can't recall what has been expunged and what remains, how should I proceed?

Should I order a record of my own arrest history, through my state, for my own reference and then disclose everything that's on it in my visa app? Will the UK home office see things that have been expunged from my record, or will they see the same exact record I get when ordering it through my state? Will I be given space on the app to "explain" or provide context for anything, or will the Home Office even care about this sort of minor stuff? I know that US applicants are generally considered 'low risk' for limited-term immigration to the UK (the US is listed on the register of low risk countries provided by the Home Office), I have a sponsor (my university, in the UK), and can provide proof of adequate funds for the duration of my course. But the niggling worries relating to the background check are, well...niggling. Help me prepare, mefites, or at least ease my mind!

PS: none of this crap has stood in the way of receiving US student loans through FAFSA, if that's at all relevant; I financed my undergrad and masters with no problems through FAFSA monies.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total)
In the visa applications that I've filled out (HSMP, then tier 1, then ILR) you do always get a place to "explain" any arrests, etc., and it's normal to attach an extra piece of paper for stuff like that so you have enough room to explain it. I don't know what they can and can't see, though - it's probably worth consulting an immigration attorney to be safe.
posted by ukdanae at 12:20 AM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would phone the embassy/consulate. There will be someone there who can answer your questions. IME (working in recruitment for a British org that does enhanced background checks that can uncover expunged convictions) you're justified in assuming this sort of thing would be a real non-issue, but I can't speak for the Home Office.
posted by K.P. at 3:10 AM on June 8, 2014

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