I'm really hoping to travel over to the states from Australia, it all sounded good to do til i found out about having a criminal record. I wouldn't be so bothered if i had a small charge of like drink driving but being young, stupid, hanging with the wrong crowd with problems i have charges like fraud, drugs and stealing. I have since sorted myself out being a law binding citizen by working and studying and staying out of trouble. Its not fair that people like in my position did wrong stupid things in the past and worked hard to get where they are and now are judged by the past not what they are now. If anyone who is or were in a similar spot I'm in, i would gratefully appreciate the info and their experiences, i still hang on hope to travel to the US. Thanks
A tourist does not need a background check from the FBI. As long as you can get a passport from your country and are not on the USA terrorist watch list, you can visit the USA. The FBI background check comes into play if you want a visa for work, student, or immigration. Typically, you can be a tourist for up to 90 days.
Since you are from Australia, you do not even need a visa. Currently, 27 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:
Visa Waiver Program - Participating Countries.
Andorra Iceland Norway
Australia Ireland Portugal
Austria Italy San Marino
Belgium Japan Singapore
Brunei Liechtenstein Slovenia
Denmark Luxembourg Spain
Finland Monaco Sweden
France the Netherlands Switzerland
Germany New Zealand United Kingdom
The following visitors will NOT qualify for the Visa Waiver Program and MUST apply for a visa:
* Persons who have ever been arrested or convicted of any offence (excepting certain fixed penalty driving offences that did not result in a conviction). Note: The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply in respect of US immigration law - if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any offence, no matter how long ago it was, you must apply for a visa before travelling to the US.
* Persons who have ever overstayed in the US, been refused entry or not complied with the rules of the visa under which they were present in the US
* Persons who have certain serious communicable diseases or condition.
If you need a visa and if you do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to apply for one at your nearest Embassy or Consulate.
There are several steps you need to follow:
* Locate a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
* Ask about specific processes, requirements, fees, and make an appointment
* Attend the appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with all requirements and fees along with ITS America's invitation letter
* Obtain the visa
How to locate an U. S. Embassy or Consulate
Please check U.S. Department of State Official website at:
for full contact information of all U.S. Embassies or consulates worldwide.
Requirements, fees and appointment schedule
Once you contact your Embassy, a specific process needs to be followed in order to obtain a visa. This process varies per country and cannot be determined until you contact the Embassy. An interview may be required so please apply for your Visa well in advance of your travel!
The DS Criminal Investigative Division conducts criminal investigations into violations of passport and visa fraud. These federal felonies are often committed in connection with more serious crimes, such as international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, organized crime, alien smuggling, money laundering, pedophilia, and murder. These investigations are critical to the Presidents efforts to secure American borders and protect the national security of the United States.
Passport and visa fraud is a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If the offense is connected to narcotics trafficking, the prison sentence is increased to up to 15 years, and 20 years if connected to international terrorism.
How Immigration Security Checks Work if you need a visa for work, study, or immigration:
To ensure that immigration benefits are given only to eligible applicants, USCIS adopted background security check procedures that address a wide range of possible risk factors. Different kinds of applications undergo different levels of scrutiny. USCIS normally uses the following three background check mechanisms but maintains the authority to conduct other background investigations as necessary:
The Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) Name Check
IBIS is a multi-agency effort with a central system that combines information from multiple agencies, databases and system interfaces to compile data relating to national security risks, public safety issues and other law enforcement concerns. USCIS can quickly check information from these multiple government agencies to determine if the information in the system affects the adjudication of the case. Results of an IBIS check are usually available immediately. In some cases, information found during an IBIS check will require further investigation. The IBIS check is not deemed completed until all eligibility issues arising from the initial system response are resolved.
FBI Fingerprint Check
FBI fingerprint checks are conducted for many applications. The FBI fingerprint check provides information relating to criminal background within the United States. Generally, the FBI forwards responses to USCIS within 24-48 hours. If there is a record match, the FBI forwards an electronic copy of the criminal history (RAP sheet) to USCIS. At that point, a USCIS adjudicator reviews the information to determine what effect it may have on eligibility for the benefit. Although the vast majority of inquiries yield no record or match, about 10 percent do uncover criminal history (including immigration violations). In cases involving arrests or charges without disposition, USCIS requires the applicant to provide court certified evidence of the disposition. Customers with prior arrests should provide complete information and certified disposition records at the time of filing to avoid adjudication delays or denial resulting from misrepresentation about criminal history. Even expunged or vacated convictions must be reported for immigration purposes.
FBI Name Checks
FBI name checks are also required for many applications. The FBI name check is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks. In about 80 percent of the cases, no match is found. Of the remaining 20 percent, most are resolved within six months. Less than one percent of cases subject to an FBI name check remain pending longer than six months. Some of these cases involve complex, highly sensitive information and cannot be resolved quickly. Even after FBI has provided an initial response to USCIS concerning a match, the name check is not complete until full information is obtained and eligibility issues arising from it are resolved.