I am having the same thoughts about travelling to the US. It seems that there is much conflicting advice on what to do. I have a possession of class A drugs on record from about 5 years ago.
It does sound like if you are honest and apply for a visa and get denied entry you are then completely b*ggered and red flagged for being honest. Whereas if you lie, the worst that could happen is you get turned around and sent home... and of course losing a lot of money! Jail is mentioned, but I'd be very surprised to be thrown into a cell because of this!
I only want to take the family to Disney World! Unless i hit a goldmine over the next couple of years and can afford to be sent home by a smug US border controller I may just take them to Disneyland Paris instead!
I did find this document, that states that it has been approved by US officials. It confirms what Terry has said time and time again, that the UK does not share criminal record details..... http://www.unlock.org.uk/userfiles/file/IAG/travel/TravellingtotheUS.pdf
Sorry that document has not been approved!!
But it still has some good advice!
mike_woolf88 Disney Land Paris is excellent, actually I prefer it, you don't get fake smiles from the French and they work hard to out-do the yanks. Don't let the Americans punish you for the rest of your life, there's the whole of the rest of world out there, go and enjoy it.
[ Edit: Edited on 27-Jun-2012, at 16:25 by Tightrope ]
all these people openly talking about diving into the States with police records and such, better hope that the US and the UK don't ever cross reference databases and get all interested in sharing too much stuff or y'all have arrest warrants out and be grabbed when next time you land. Sharing aint always a good thing.
[ Edit: Edited on 28-Jun-2012, at 09:08 by creedance ]
Arrest warrants for past convictions from another country? Huh? What in the world are you talking about?
Don't confuse an already complicated situation with yet more nonsense...
Nope! For violating the USA Visa laws, it's an offense to say 'no' on the ESTA when the truth is a 'yes'. The good ol' states wants them UK records man, and one day you just never know. And when that software cross references all the now electronically stored data of all those dudes that said 'no' with all those PNC records that say 'yes', the US authorities will see a few flags waving around on them sreens.
First time poster on here, so I will get the apologies out of the way first of all (particularly to Terry (: as I know that this topic has been covered numerous times on this thread and the answers seem to follow a common theme.
My own situation is neither unique nor dissimilar to many who have already posted on this topic (hence the apology above). 5 years ago (when I was 27), I was caught in possession with a very small amount of Class-A drug (Cocaine) on me. I was cautioned (possession) and released on the same day – first offence, never went to court, never fined, and will only come up on an Enhanced Disclosure check.
My wife, without knowing of my previous misdemeanour (should have told her, I know) has subsequently booked us both flights next month to Vegas as a birthday surprise.
She was aware that in order to fly to the States you need to fill in an ESTA form, and not to ruin the surprise she filled out the form for both us. She clearly ticked the box as “no” when the ESTA form asked whether I had ever been arrested. To my surprise, the ESTA form came back immediately as authorised for me to travel to the States. I asked her if it had been delayed etc and she said it hadn’t. I have now since explained the situation to her.
She is now, understandably, concerned - as I am - about my ability to travel to the US and the possible consequences of doing so. As far as I can make out, the US DHS does not have access to the PNC – Is this right? I did cross-reference this with a 2010 Home Office document that did confirm this. The new PNR regulations do not seem to refer to a UK criminal check as pre-requisite for travel (unless you are wanted by Interpol or the States already). Therefore, unless you are on their radar it is difficult for them to detect.
I’m concerned due to the nature of the caution (drug possession) as I know that America has as a zero policy on substances. Clearly, going through the right, official and proper channels of going to the Embassy and applying for a visa is now no longer than option open to me; although from what I have read, it appears I very much doubt that I would have been successful going down that route anyway.
I guess what I’m trying to assess – and I know that no one can give a cast iron guarantee - is the following:
What background checks do the US DHS do when applying for an ESTA?
If the ESTA is approved, do they do any further checks with the UK after approval? E.g. can my caution be uncovered even though I have had a successful ESTA?
In addition, ultimately and most decisively, what background checks do they do at US border control? (E.g. can they/do they have access to UK PNC?)
Ethically I know that I should just not travel (and I might well do just that) knowing that the ESTA form contains inaccurate info.
However, like many others, I’m in a bit of a predicament (flights booked etc). From speaking to various mates etc (many with worse records than mine) and from reading this forum as well, there are a number of people that ticked “no” on the form and have recently been to and from America succesfully. I know that my head says that they have bigger fish to fry than me, but it is a bit nerve wracking for both my wife and I (my fault I know).
Anyway, if anyone can shed some light on my questions, I would really appreciate it. Sorry for the length of the e-mail as well – last one on this topic!
"... I guess what I’m trying to assess - and I know that no one can give a cast iron guarantee - is the following..."
No one can answer those questions with any certainty. There is no such thing as a guarantee about anything. If you've read this whole thread then you know your chances of running into any trouble are extremely slim but you are rolling the dice.
That's the only honest answer.
Update to a post I made on page 24 (the long one).
I applied for a visa as I didn't wana risk anything and I had an appointment in Auckland this morning. When booking me in the man said I would probably not be able to get one now as they require a criminal records check certificate (which I didn't hav as it would've taken a couple of weeks to process in the UK and send over to NZ so I just chanced it without).
But then on interview, a different man asked me about my plans, what was on my record (caution) and what was it for (possession) and when was it. I was under the assumption that a caution, charge, conviction makes no difference to them, but he said as I was not actually convicted I would be eligible for a visa. He said there is a 4 month wait for cases with convictions, but as mine was only a caution he was able to issue me a visa on the spot for the duration of my intended stay. I haven't got my passport back yet, and I won't relax until I'm past US immigration in August, but it seems that being honest has paid off.
I think it helped that I was the other side of the world; if I applied in London I think it would have to be dealt with more formally and take longer.
Post 22 may be true, but as others have pointed out they will surely share databases one day, in which case if you lie now you could be setting yourself up for trouble somewhere along the line.
@UKNZtraveller. That's really good news, be sure to let us know how you get on in August.
[ Edit: Edited on 03-Jul-2012, at 01:57 by creedance ]