Clients often ask “can I apply for a visa if I have been convicted of drunken driving?” The answer depends on the sentence which followed the conviction.
Requirements for a South African Visa application
When applying for a visa, applicants older than 18 are required to submit a police clearance certificate in respect of every country in which they have lived since turning 18 years of age. If an applicant has a conviction for drunken driving, then the conviction will turn up on the police report. This report is submitted with the visa application. The question is, how does a conviction affect the applicant’s prospects of success?
Applicants with criminal convictions
The Immigration Act stipulates that anyone who has a previous criminal conviction where payment of a fine was not an option (and the offence is recognized by South African law) may be declared an “undesirable person”. Undesirable persons do not qualify for visas to South Africa.
Drunken driving is an offence in South Africa.Therefore, if the sentence for the drunken driving offence was rehabilitative community service, house arrest or incarceration at a correctional facility, then the applicant can be declared undesirable when submitting a visa application and the visa application can be refused on that basis.
If, however, the offender did have the option to pay a fine, then the conviction should not affect the application. However, we have found that some high commissions and embassies have refused visa applications where the applicant has been fined for a drunken driving offence. We have been successful in having these refusals overturned on appeal. It should also be noted that declarations of undesirability can be set aside.
Applying for a visa when you hold prior convictions
Applicants with prior convictions should always contact an immigration attorney for advice before submitting a visa application. Applicants without prior convictions should phone a taxi.
Speak to a professional
Contact Le Roux Attorneys, South African Visa specialists about your visa application. Start by selecting one of the enquiry options below