Think twice before replying ‘no’ … you may be wrong!
Following the recent refusal by the UK government to grant Chinese artist Ai Weiwei a six-month business visitor visa, we would like to highlight the importance of accurately answering the questions posed in your UK visa application.
Ai was refused his application for a six-month business visitor visa so that he could attend his upcoming exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, on the basis that he had not declared a previous a criminal conviction and had therefore failed to meet the business visitor rules.
The matter has since been resolved, as despite being detained by the Chinese authorities in 2011, Ai has never actually been charged or convicted of a crime in China. The Home Office has now granted Ai his six month business visitor visa and has apologised for the inconvenience caused.
It is easy to presume, however, that when asked whether you have a criminal or unspent conviction in the UK or any other country, your answer would be ‘no’. But a criminal conviction can be anything from a mere caution to a court ruling.
When filling out a UK visa application form, you must declare whether you have received:
A driving offence, eg. speeding or being caught behind the wheel without insurance;
A caution, warning, reprimand, or fixed penalty notice;
A court judgement, eg. for debt;
A civil penalty (ie. a fine for breaking UK immigration law); or
If you have been arrested or charged, even if you are still awaiting a trial.
We support both individuals and their UK visa applications, along with providing UK visa, compliance, and audit services to our corporate UK clients.