USA tourist visa with criminal record

Rashid writes, "When I lived in the USA 10 years ago as a student, I was convicted of a misdemeanor for shoplifting.  I had to do some community service.  Since then I have been a good man in my country, working all this time, and would like to visit extended family and old friends for a week.  Will I be able to get a visitor visa?"

The United States is very strict about granting visas to individuals with criminal records.  It is enough of a problem if you have broken the laws outside the United States (for which the embassies essentially rely on your honesty to provide all the details) and it is a much greater problem if you broke US laws (for which all the records are easily accessible).  It does not mean that you will be definitely denied a visa but the risk persists.  Basically, you will need to declare what happened, provide all the paperwork, and during the interview show contrition.  As long as crimes are not drug related or a person does not have an impressive history of crimes, you are very likely to be approved for a visitor visa.  The decision ultimately depends on the officer who will review your case and each case is handled individually.