Police Clearance Certificate Requirements in India
Permanent resident ("green card") cases can be finalized either in the United States or at a U.S. consulate abroad. When applying at the consulate, the process involves an application for an immigrant visa. One important part of the documentation needed for approval of an immigrant visa is the police clearance certificate. This requirement is mandatory for most individuals applying for immigrant visas in India.
The term police clearance certificate (often shortened to "police certificate") refers to a certification by appropriate police authorities setting forth what the police records show concerning a particular applicant. The certificate addresses all arrests, the reasons for arrest, and the disposition (outcome) of each case.
Of course, many individuals have never been arrested or charged of any crime. Applicants without criminal records still must obtain police certificates. These certificates confirm the absence of any criminal record.
Timeframes and Ages
Original police certificate/s meeting these requirements are necessary for all immigrant visa applicants aged 16 and above. These certificates must cover the entire period of the applicant's residence in a particular area.
Applicants who have resided in any country/ies outside of India for 12 months or more (while age 16 or above) is required to present police certificate/s from that / those country/ies, as well. It is not necessary, however, to present U.S. police certificates.
Applicants should be aware that the police certificate is only valid for 12 months from the date of issuance. If necessary, the police certificate must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
Where to Obtain Certificates
There is some variation between the instructions on the consular websites and our experiences with the National Visa Center (NVC) as of this writing. Consular websites instruct individuals to obtain the certificate from either the regional passport office or local police station, depending upon circumstances. However, it has been our experience that the NVC requires residents of India to obtain police certificates from both the regional passport office and the local police station. Since the NVC acts as the intermediary between the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the consulates, and gathers the documents needed for most immigrant visa applications, we generally advise applicants to obtain police certificates from both locations in order to facilitate immigrant visa processing.
As indicated above, individuals sometimes need to obtain police certificates from more than one country. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has information regarding document availability worldwide. The information is available online by selecting the particular country and scrolling to the portion on police certificates. If the DOS shows that police certificates cannot be obtained in a particular country, or for particular timeframes, this is sufficient to eliminate the need for the document from that country.
The police clearance certificate continues to be a vital requirement in the immigrant visa application process. The procedures are subject to change, and should be verified for each case.