Visa application updates: Criminal history checks introduced in some countries

criminal check

Visa application updates: Criminal history checks introduced in some countries

criminal checkThe Government of the Republic of Indonesia, through the Ministry of Law and Human Rights (Kemenkumham), has recently suspended and reviewed the policy of visa-free visits (BVK) for 159 countries entering Indonesia, with the exception of ASEAN countries. This new policy is detailed in the Ministerial Decree M.HH-GR.01.07 of 2023, which was approved on June 7, 2023.

One of the reasons behind this decision is the increasing number of cases involving misbehavior by foreign tourists that disrupt public order. In response to this concern, several other countries, including the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, have also implemented stricter entry rules.

Prohibition of entry for convicted criminals

The United Kingdom has recently tightened its visa application process for visitors from abroad. According to media reports, the UK’s Home Department now requires all foreign visitors coming to the UK to apply for permission and undergo a background criminal check.

Individuals with criminal records will be subjected to scrutiny, and those with a criminal record or who have spent more than one year in prison may be banned from entering the country.

Similarly, Hong Kong has implemented stricter measures. According to a media release by the Hong Kong Immigration Department (ImmD), starting from June 19, applicants for entry visas to Hong Kong are required to declare their criminal records.

This policy also applies to professional workers. It was introduced following a controversial case involving the entry of a Chinese biophysicist, He Jiankui, who had been imprisoned in 2019 for illegal experiments on human embryos. After suspecting that the biophysicist provided false information upon entry, the ImmD revoked his visa and launched further investigations into the matter.

Criminal records as a reference

Background checks on criminal records are conducted to ascertain whether an individual has any relevant criminal history, lawsuits, or legal cases.

Besides being a requirement for visa applications, these checks are often a standard component of the employee recruitment process. Companies can gain a comprehensive picture of a candidate’s background by combining criminal record checks with other types of screenings.

The more information a company obtains, the lower its exposure to risks. When it comes to visa applications for a country, conducting criminal record checks is a step towards enhancing national security and protecting its citizens from individuals who may potentially disturb and endanger public order.


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