my family have had a holiday to florida booked for a few months now, we are due to go in about 3 weeks time.
Just found out about this crazy law where if you have a record for even very minor offences, you need to go see the american embassy in london to get a visa waiver.
one of the people om travelling with ( a 50+ yr old woman), was arrested last year for shoplifting, and ended up not having to pay a fine, basically just a telling off - & a record.
We have been in touch with the american embassy who say they cannot sort this out for us within 3 weeks. We are very distressed about it, as thw woman in question is obviously not a threat to america! she is taking her grandaughter on holiday, and we would all be very upset if we had to cancel.
Ive been looking at various sites, and get the impression that if you say nothing about having a record, u.s customs will not find out about it.
Do you think we should just go and play dumb? and if anything is said pretend we knew nothing about it?
It seems so petty that she would not be allowed into the usa because she stole a few things from a shop over a year ago.
Any advice please anyone?
thanks for reading
Julie, I would think long and hard before messing with customs...they can put ppl in detention for less than that...and detention is no holiday! You might want to talk to an immigration attorney about options...but US immigration is very serious about such things these days...sorry...and I doubt anything can be done within 3 weeks- nothing is fast with immigration, but an attorney could tell you better than I...
I have posted about this before. One of my mates has a criminal record and he's not allowed in the US due to what they deem as the severity of the offence. Your 50 year old lady might not want to risk it because, as mentioned above, detention ain't no fun. Plus think about what a waste that ticket will be if she gets turned away. Consider the feelings of the granddaughter as well. How will she react if her grandmother gets turned away or held because of her previous conviction?
I would say don't go if I were you.
thanks for replying. does anyone know if the criminal record is put onto the magnetic readable passports? just wondering how they would find out unless we told them?
have you found out anymore? I am in a similar situation and was going to take the risk of just travelling. Nobody seems to know if the US will have that information just from the passport, but most people seem to think no. I went to the local policestation and the lady behind the counter said, that she had travelled with people who said 'no' on their entry form and were fine, but their offence had been more than five years ago.
I am really nervous about this, so am trying to speak to as many people as possible.
I have just returned from Las Vegas and thought I let you know what happened ASAP, so you can decide what you are doing next.
I took the plunge and decided to go. Answered the forms on the plane with no (they do ask about drug related ore moral 'something' related offences as mentioned on the website you recommended, which I felt I could answer with a clear conscience) and when I got to customs, they mentioned nothing. The officer asked me twice if I had been to the US before, which I hadn't, I think he might have had my details (prints or so) on file, but there didn't seem to be any mention of my criminal record details and I was through customs in no time.
It was desperately nerve racking and I am not sure I would do it again, but it was worth it.
As for your relative, I think it would be similar, but it has to be a decision she makes and she has to be aware that there is a risk to it.
thanks very much for your reply, im glad everything went ok for you. We are going in a couple of days so fingers crossed!
i'll post again when i get back & let you know what happened.
Just letting you know everything went ok, Just got back from Florida, no problems at all going through customs. The customs officer was actually really nice and friendly! first time for everything i suppose.
If anyone else is wondering whether or not to risk it, i definately would - unless you are a big time criminal, then maybe not
thanks for all the advice