The Student Room Group

USA Exchange Programme with Police Caution (J1 Visa)

Hi all,

I've been accepted onto an exchange programme in the US.

All is in order other than one major thing, in 2017 when I was 18 (I am now 25), I got cautioned for possession of a Class A drug, please note, not arrested just cautioned.

I was wondering if anyone with UK police cautions did or did not have any issues with getting a J1 visa to study in the USA? My caution is classed as 'spent' and for filtering reasons would not show up on standard DBS checks. However, for the J1 visa I have to get a copy of an ARCO Police certificate to show if I have any criminal history. It will either show as: "no trace" (no history at all), or "no live trace" (no recent history, indicating something is there, e.g caution). I've applied for the certificate so I will see if it shows on there.

This has been my only ever run in with the Police, and I was 18 at the time (only by a week, a week earlier I'd still have been classed as a juvenile). Since then, in 2018 I joined the British Army, served 4 years as a regular soldier and am a current serving army reservist of 2 years, 6 years military service with regular drug tests and no criminal history other than this caution. And of course, I am now a university student.

The only issue I may have is I've had 2 ESTA's from 2023 (short term visas to go on US holidays), and I said I have no criminal history. The reason for this is because I was told by a Police officer that I did not have to declare it because it was "spent". Though the reason may be genuine, they might not like that I said no whereas they may find I have, and remember my ARCO police certificate will tell me if something is on my record.

All I can do is attempt to explain that situation on my application.

I'm hoping this won't cause me issues. I was 18, young, and dumb. I've since grown up, became a soldier and a student.

Anyone got any advice?
(edited 1 month ago)

Quick Reply