Overseas Criminal Record Certificates for UK Visas
If you are applying for a UK visa from overseas then as part of your immigration application you may be required to provide the Home Office with an overseas criminal record certificate. Failing to provide an overseas criminal record certificate, or a reasonable explanation for not doing so, may result in your visa application being refused.
In this guide we ask: What is the immigration overseas criminal record certificate requirement? Who needs to provide an overseas criminal record certificate when making an immigration application? Why does the Home Office require an overseas criminal record certificate? How can overseas criminal record certificates be obtained? What should you do if you cannot obtain an overseas criminal record certificate? And, what happens if an overseas criminal record certificate is not provided?
What is the UK visa overseas criminal record certificate requirement?
The overseas criminal record certificate requirement applies to applications for entry clearance in certain specific visa routes (see below).
Where the requirement applies, applicants must provide a criminal record certificate for any country (excluding the UK) that they have been present in for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total), in the 10 years prior to the date of their application, while aged 18 or over.
It is important to note that all types of stay and of any duration in a country will count towards the 12-month qualifying period for submission of a certificate, not just ordinary residence or settlement.
A criminal record certificate should be not more than 6 months old at the date of the visa application.
Where the requirement applies, an applicant must provide a scanned copy of a criminal record certificate. If the certificate is not in English, a translated copy of the certificate must be provided. The translation should be a certified translation by a professional translator, confirming the translator’s credentials and confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document. It should also be dated and include the original signature of the translator.
Who needs to provide an overseas criminal record certificate?
The following immigration routes contain an overseas criminal record certificate requirement when applying for a UK visa from overseas:
- Tier 1 (Investor)
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Skilled Worker – in specific education, health or social care sectors (see below)
- Dependent partners of the main applicant in any of the above routes
If you are applying to enter the UK on any other immigration route then, at the time of writing, you are not required to satisfy an overseas criminal record requirement.
If you are in the UK and are applying to switch into, or extend permission in, any of the above immigration categories then you also do not need to satisfy an overseas criminal record requirement.
Education, health and social care sectors
If you apply for a Skilled Worker visa from overseas in order to take up employment in one of the roles in the following SOC codes then you will need to provide an overseas criminal record certificate:
1181 – Health services and public health managers and directors
1184 – Social services managers and directors
1241 – Health care practice managers
1242 – Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
2211 – Medical practitioners
2212 – Psychologists
2213 – Pharmacists
2214 – Ophthalmic opticians
2215 – Dental practitioners
2217 – Medical radiographers
2218 – Podiatrists
2219 – Health professionals not elsewhere classified
2221 – Physiotherapists
2222 – Occupational therapists
2223 – Speech and language therapists
2229 – Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified
2231 – Nurses
2232 – Midwives
2312 – Further education teaching professionals
2314 – Secondary education teaching professionals
2315 – Primary and nursery education teaching professionals
2316 – Special needs education teaching professionals
2317 – Senior professionals of educational establishments
2318 – Education advisers and school inspectors
2319 – Teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classified
2442 – Social workers
2443 – Probation officers
2449 – Welfare professionals not elsewhere classified
3213 – Paramedics
3216 – Dispensing opticians
3217 – Pharmaceutical technicians
3218 – Medical and dental technicians
3219 – Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
3231 – Youth and community workers
3234 – Housing officers
3235 – Counsellors
3239 – Welfare and housing associate professionals not elsewhere classified
3443 – Fitness instructors
3562 – Human resources and industrial relations officers
6121 – Nursery nurses and assistants
6122 – Childminders and related occupations
6123 – Playworkers
6125 – Teaching assistants
6126 – Educational support assistants
6141 – Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
6143 – Dental nurses
6144 – Houseparents and residential wardens
6146 – Senior care workers
Why does the Home Office require an overseas criminal record certificate?
All UK visa applicants are required to disclose previous offending on their visa or immigration application form and Part 9 of the Immigration Rules and the equivalent suitability requirements in Appendix Armed Forces, Appending FM, Appendix V, part 11 and part 14 provide a basis for refusal of entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK on grounds of a person’s prior convictions, offending or criminal behaviour.
However, since 1 September 2015, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) entry clearance applicants and their partners have been required to provide evidence of their criminal record, or that they have none, in the form of an overseas criminal record certificate. The requirement for main applicants is now found in paragraph 245DB (entry clearance as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant and paragraph 245EB (entry clearance as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant) of the Immigration Rules. The requirement for dependent partners is found in paragraph 319C of the Immigration Rules.
According to Home Office guidance:
“The requirement for applicants to evidence their criminal record strengthens the existing process enabling us to establish whether the person has committed any offences overseas.”
From 6 April 2017, the requirement to provide an overseas criminal record certificate was extended to Tier 2 (General) (now Skilled Worker) entry clearance applicants (and their partners) coming to the UK to work in the health, education and social sectors. Initially found in paragraph 245HB of the Immigration Rules, the requirement for main applicants is now found in paragraph SW16.1 of Appendix Skilled Worker. The requirement for dependent partners is found in paragraph 319C of the Immigration Rules.
According to Home Office guidance:
“This will provide additional safeguards where a migrant’s job involves working closely with children and vulnerable people.”
Where a criminal record certificate discloses that an applicant has a criminal history then the Home Office will consider whether there are grounds to refuse the application under the general grounds for refusal in part 9 of the Immigration Rules.
If a criminal record certificate discloses that an applicant has been arrested and charged and is awaiting prosecution or a court hearing, then consideration of the application will be put on hold pending the outcome of proceedings.
How to apply for an overseas criminal record certificate
A certificate confirming an individual’s overseas criminal record can usually be obtained from the local police or other appropriate law enforcement agency in the country.
Details of how to obtain a check from the relevant authorities abroad are available on the GOV.UK website. This guidance includes information about the process, cost and service standards for obtaining a certificate. However, we recommend that applicants check with the relevant authorities directly as the information in the guidance may not reflect the current position.
If you cannot obtain an overseas criminal record certificate
If you are unable to obtain a criminal record certificate, perhaps because the country that would ordinarily issue a certificate has no functioning criminal record regime or because it refuses to provide criminal record certificates to non-citizens, then you should provide an explanation with your UK visa application.
Your explanation should detail your attempts to obtain a criminal record certificate and an explanation as to why a criminal record certificate has not been forthcoming.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will consider your explanation against the situation in the relevant country or countries. If UKVI is satisfied that you have provided a satisfactory explanation as to why it is not reasonably practicable to obtain a criminal record certificate from any or all of the relevant authorities then they should waive the requirement.
Failure to obtain an overseas criminal record certificate
If the Immigration Rules require an overseas criminal record certificate to be provided and you fail to provide one (or a reasonable explanation for not providing one) then your application will fall to be refused.
However, under the terms of its guidance to caseworkers, if the Home Office considers that it is possible to obtain a certificate (or to provide a reasonable explanation for not providing one) then it should contact you or your representative in writing and allow 28 working days for the document or explanation to be provided.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance with a UK visa application, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.