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Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

Travel Forums North America Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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1001. Posted by Samg1932 (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Hi again,

Thanks for your reply, I feel I'm very prepared for it all but there's still that niggling feeling eating away. In response to your questions, yes, arrests, bail, conviction, court and sentence; the full package. I think I will explain to them how stupid I was as an 18 year old and I've kept down two decent jobs since then plus completing my university degree. Also my waiver of ineligibility was one year along with the one year visa. Have you applied before? I assume you know what to expect with the embassy?

Cheers

Sam

1002. Posted by travelman99 (Full Member 150 posts) 1y

Hi Sam

Wow, it took a year to get it?

I'm due to see a lawyer on Wednesday, to discuss in more detail before I apply. I wasn't found with any drugs on my possession, but I admitted to buying what I thought was drugs (effectively admitting guilt). Clean record aside form this - also have a mortgage, good savings, senior position at a well known American company and lots of ties to the UK. I've also visited the states before my caution via the ESTA. The lawyers reckon there might be a chance I can avoid a lengthy waiver process, so I need to get toxicology reports proving I wasn't found with drugs on me, if they still hold them.

How was it at the embassy though, one hears all sorts of horror stories, it would be good to hear it first hand from yourself.

Kind regards

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Jun-2015, at 04:18 by travelman99 ]

1003. Posted by Samg1932 (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Hi again-

Did you mean how long did it take to get or how long did I get the waiver for? The latter was for a year along with the visa itself, so I therefore had one year from October 1st 2014 to go to the U.S. The visa waiting period was from December 5th 2013 til October 3rd 2014 so it was a very long and frustrating wait. Luckily I didn't have to be there urgently. The embassy is a complete nightmare; I'm sure other peoples' experiences may differ but my appointment was at "9.30am" so obviously I arrived at around 9.10am, stood in line being yelled at by some 'official' with an attitude problem to get rid of my phone and belt as well as telling my dad he wasn't allowed in- only the named applicant. I went in and waited about 2 hours for my number to be called, went up to the window, had all my documentation ready and began to answer the question 'why are you going to the states?' I was interrupted at 'because I want-' as she threw my documents aside and told me to take a seat and I will be called 'shortly'. 3 and a half hours later I went through to the back interview rooms where they asked me everything about my conviction, every detail, aspect, reason and told me my visa application was denied because I didn't have an ACPO certificate, told me I had to apply for one, send it to the embassy which then gets sent to the DHS in Washington which can take up to 12 months (Not far off) for them to consider it for a waiver of ineligibility as without a waiver it's a straight refusal. It was then granted with the waiver. My advice would be to get your police certificate in advance, yours doesn't sound as serious as mine but it's still recommended. Basically a lot of waiting and biting your lip with jobsworths that make you feel like a bit of scum. Sorry this is so long, bit of bedtime reading for you!

Sam

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Jun-2015, at 04:54 by Samg1932 ]

1004. Posted by travelman99 (Full Member 150 posts) 1y

Hi Sam

I wouldn't be so sure that my offence is more minor in the eyes of US law, any drug related offence is treated severely.

Now - for anyone with a drug caution/conviction, I visited a lawyer today to get some guidance on my chances of getting a Visa.

Ultimately, due to a controlled substance violation, I will not be eligible to use ESTA, or to get a VISA, and will therefore have to be put forward for a waiver by the embassy. A waiver is completely discretionary and relies on certain factors:

1) Are you a danger to the USA?
- How severe was the crime?
- What are your ties to the UK, i.e mortage, job, family etc
- Do you do any charity work or a member of a religious organisation?
- Do you have a stable job with a good salary?
- What savings do you have?
- Do you have any character references from people in religious, senior, or legal sectors?

2) How recent was your crime?
- You haven't got a chance until at least a year has passed for a minor CIMT or drug related offence.
- More serious offences will require a longer "rehabilitation period"

3) What is the reason for wanted to visit.
- Tourist reasons?
- Work reasons?
Note: Work reasons will generally be considered more favourable than tourist reasons

Obviously point 1 and 2 are most important when deciding for if a waiver is an acceptable choice for them to make. You'll also notice I've included some key elements on what they look at, providing proof of this will be beneficial.

Furthermore, the Lawyer mentioned that wearing smart clothing, preferably a suit, is a further benefit, as ultimately you have to be fairly persuasive on the day, as a waiver is ultimately discretionary.

In my case, I have a 2 year old caution for Attempt to Possess a Class A, I earn between between 70 - 100k per year, I work for a very well known American company, I have a house, car, and lots of ties to the UK... With this is mind, I was given a 60% chance of success due to the time elapsed.

So - choose wisely if you want to go down this route, as Terry has said, and the Lawyer confirmed today, the US does NOT have access to our PNC, and you'd have to be extremely unlucky to be stopped, questioned, and then checked via Interpol channels. However, if you're applying for business reasons, I would recommend going down this route any day, as committing immigration fraud is a federal offence and will limit your options going forward if you ever wanted to work out there full time.

My next step is booking my appointment at the embassy, I will keep you updated.

1005. Posted by jetset2015 (Budding Member 9 posts) 1y

Great detail Travelman thanks. Incidentally how much did the lawyer cost? Did they give you any idea how long since a caution such as yours was issued would be viewed as sufficient time to have elapsed?

1006. Posted by Samg1932 (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Thanks for the update Travelman, and yeah please do keep us updated with what happens with that. The only thing I'd add in case you weren't aware, is that you may get the visa approved and waivered, which is great, however having an approved visa doesn't guarantee you entry to the U.S; it merely allows you to the border in the airport where upon a border patrol official ultimately tells you whether or not you will be allowed into the country. Hence my question, I have an approved visa and everything is above board, I was just wondering what to expect at the airport given my circumstances. Let us know how things pan out for you

Sam

1007. Posted by Michaelllll18 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Hello,

My name is Michael and I am due to go to America in the middle of July to visit friends. I have been around 5/6 times including 2 trips in which I worked there coaching soccer on j1 and b2 visas.
This February I was arrested for reckless criminal damage. Stupid mistake but was a mistake. I was given a conditional caution and paid the fine. On my esta I have said no to being arrested for a crime of moral turpitude as I believe it wasn't of moral turpitude. It was more rash than malicious.
I'm from the u.k. Any advice on this would be massively appreciated.

1008. Posted by travelman99 (Full Member 150 posts) 1y

Jetset - £180 for the hour. Normally they say five years, but it could be 20 years since the caution, but if one does not demonstrate sufficient ties to the UK, they will still deny you. There are lots of different factors.

Samsg - Really difficult to say, however I was told that you have a very good chance of entry as a consular officer has already assessed your case. You'd have to be very, very unlucky to be turned away.

Michael18 - What the ESTA states and what US immigration want are two different things. You see resources online suggesting anyone with a criminal record should declare this, as they will ultimately decide what constitutes a CIMT based the evidence you present. However, ESTA only asks for a CIMT. In my opinion, the term "reckless" suggests you were very drunk and did something out of character and at the spur of the moment, and therefore not a calculated attempt at damaging private property. Therefore, I would tick "no" and forget about it.

1009. Posted by Michaelllll18 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Thank you for the advice travel man. I will let you know how I get on. Two things, sorry what is cimt and what should I say on the landing card. To be honest I cannot remember what the questions are on it. And actually a 3rd thing I had been drinking but it wasn't put on record that I was intoxicated.

Thanks again

1010. Posted by djjmc (First Time Poster 1 posts) 1y

I'm amazed by the amount of people who are giving advice on here -without any facts!

I will not Identify myself for obvious reasons, but here are some facts. (not opinion)

  • I was convicted in Australia for a crime involving moral torpitude (manslaughter) and theft.
  • I applied and obtained a Permanent Resident Visa in Canada. (disclosing my convictions)
  • I then applied and received ESTA.
  • Since then I have crossed into the states over 30 times (plane or car) and have never had an issue.
  • I have never said yes to any questions related to convictions.

The USA and Canada and separately AUS and NZ are the only countries that share criminal databases. So you can't hide your crimes, if you are Canadian or American, when entering the US or canada.

However if you are from any other nation - the USA and Canada DO NOT have access to your criminal history. Simply say you dont have any convictions and enjoy your holiday.

Obviously lawyers and visa application companies want to scare you into using their service. But just remember your passport DOES NOT contain any conviction history. FACT.

I have also traveled to Thailand, Vietnam, China (visa), Vanuatu, Rarotonga, Fiji, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Singapore all with no issues at all.

Interpol does not have your criminal record unless you are wanted internationally.

Customs officers DO NOT contact Interpol unless they suspect you are wanted.