top of page

ACRO - Will A Criminal Record Affect My Chances Of Obtaining A Visa?

"Criminal record check certificate. Applicants of legal age must submit both the original and a copy of the criminal record check certificate(s) issued by their country or countries of residence for the past 5 years. Foreign documents must be legalised or apostilled and, where applicable, must be submitted together with an official translation into Spanish."  In the UK this means your ACRO* Certificate.

*ACRO Criminal Record Office is a national police unit, head quartered in Hampshire and based near Fareham, that provides a range of policing-related services for the public, international law enforcement organisations, and non-police agencies.

You may or may not be aware that ALL criminal convictions in the UK appear on the Police National Computer (PNC) and do so until the individual is deemed to have reached 100 years of age.

However, it doesn't necessarily follow that all convictions will appear on the ACRO, this is because the police use what is known as a step-down model, which is a means of ensuring that the disclosure of criminal convictions on Police Certificates and International Child Protection Certificates (ICPC) is proportionate.

Offences are stepped down after a set time period whilst taking into account the seriousness of the offence, the age of the subject when the offence was committed, the outcome, and the sentence imposed.

eg. An adult person convicted of common assault and receiving a non-custodial sentence in 2000 will see the offence stepped down in 2012.

This is because the offence is considered a Class C offence, and it relates to an adult receiving a non custodial punishment. The offence would have stepped down after 12 years (see table below), in other words it will be removed from the ACRO.

ACRO Step Down

Had they received a custodial sentence more than 6 months then the same offence would step down after 30 years.

Where someone has offended in the past and those offences have all been removed, the ACRO will show "NO LIVE TRACE".

There are circumstances where the above offence will remain on the ACRO after 12 years, for example if before stepdown in 2012 the individual re-offends, say they receive a caution in 2010 for criminal damage, again Catagory C, but this time only a caution which steps down after 5 years, in 2015.

In this case of the offence committed in 2000, this will now only step down in 2015 at the same time as the criminal damage offence.

That is how the ACRO works! so before you start to panic over past offences, they may not even show up on the ACRO!

ACRO Step Down Model
Download PDF • 1.46MB

The above file lists all possible offences and shows the catagory A,B, or C it can be used in conjunction with the table above to determine step down time.

"NO TRACE" ACRO - means no offences have been recorded on the PNC

"NO LIVE TRACE" ACRO indicates that some offences have been recorded, however they have gone into step down and so no longer appear on the ACRO.

NO LIVE TRACE ACROS are every bit as good as the "NO TRACE ACRO"

What if my ACRO shows convictions, will I have my VISA application rejected?

First check to make sure that the ACRO is correct, it is possible that some convictions maybe spent and are showing up incorrectly. If you believe that is the case contact the ACRO help line and ask them to review the ACRO**.

**It's important to remember that you are not asking for the police to remove the conviction from the police national computer, that's a completely different request and process, because as we have mentioned earlier convictions will remain on your record until you reach 100. What you are asking for is a conviction to be removed from the ACRO under the step down model.

So the ACRO is correct, quickly check to see when the offences will go into step down, if step down is imminent then you always have the option of delaying your NLV application.

Other than that don't panic because over the years we have dealt with many applicants that have NOT got clean ACROS, and so far only two people that we have dealt with have been rejected.

Minor offences that involve cautions are unlikely to be an issue, one off offences are more like to be accepted, however currently there is no way of knowing whether you will be rejected, you will only get the answer by applying!

If you have any questions you can speak to us by booking a call or alternatively email us

Irina Greensitt


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page