I agree with the first answer. Generally, you would need to be booked at a correctional facility or jail and not just cited for the offense to appear on your record. Of course, having completed diversion, you honestly say you have never been convicted of the offense.
i agree with the recommendation of the other attorneys to get a Livescan. Additionally, your criminal history can be listed in different databases. Only authorized personnel can access your official state criminal history, called CLETS (California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System). It will list much more information that private databases. For example, CLETS will list any convictions you've had expunged, whereas private databases will not.
The general policy of Santa Clara police is not to arrest persons for petty theft but simply issue them a citation with a court date. Often they mark on the citation a requirement to be booked and released before the court appearance. However it looks as if you got pre-filing diversion which is often offered in Santa Clara, the successful completion of which does not require that the cited person be booked and released. It sounds like you were not arrested (you were cited) and you were not subsequently booked and released (no arrest record). You're well advised to follow the other attorneys advice and complete the livescan to confirm this and to provide yourself peace of mind. Regarding your response to the question posed in the F1 visa application, perhaps you should consult an attorney in person to confirm the accuracy of your response but I do not believe you were arrested based on what you've revealed.
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