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Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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Posts 651 & 652 were removed by moderators
653. Posted by Pr1988 (Budding Member 3 posts) 2y

Quoting Angel718

Hi. I have read this entire thread… I really need help.
I am a british citizen.. 28 years old.
When I was 21 i was arrested and convicted for possession of cannabis, and robbery (I used a plastic bb gun so it was not deemed as a fire arm)…. In 2007 I was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for these offences.. To which I served 3 and a half years. .. I was released from prison in 2011… I have no excuses for my actions… I was a very stupid person. I was in a lot of debt at the time and at my wits end… I made a stupid decision which I regretted at the time and to this day…
On release from prison I automatically looked for work. I was honest and declared my convictions… Surprise surprise I was constantly refused employment… This stressed me out a lot as I wanted to put this behind me. So I decided to stop declaring my conviction. Within 2 weeks I was offered a job. I was so happy. I was working for this company for a year.. I got involved with a woman there and confided in her that I had been to prison (very stupid of me.. i should have kept quite)… Me and this woman broke up and she wasn't happy, so to get me back she told my employer that I had been to prison. My employer pulled me up. And to prevent any issues I resigned on the spot, so that there would be no back lash, and no outside agencies involved…. I decide I would look for another job and this time not confide in anyone at all. as employment is very important to me as i have a child now. I found an employer who did not ask if i had a criminal record.. which was perfect as it meant i did not lie because i was not asked. While with this employer I was head hunted by another company. I accepted the job as it was more money.. I finally felt like my life was going on track. On my first day at the new company i received the contract and proceeded to fill in the forms. it said do you have any convictions… of course i knew I had to lie. so i said no. it then said you are now signing to give consent to a crb check… I then shit my pants, but decided to risk it, just in case they didn't do the check.. in my experience a lot of companies don't do the checks, especially not in my line of work, which is recruitment….. 6 weeks later my boss pulled me into the office and dismissed me due to the crb coming back that I had a criminal record…. this was literally last month… I was so fed up. I'm a good man. I'm trying to live my life right but keep coming across hurdles…. So here's what I did.. please bare with me this does include travelling to the states…. I decided that I'm sick of worrying about CRB checks.. Yes I committed what is classed as a violent crime, even though no physical force came. I decided to change my name via deed poll… I changed my entire name, then proceeded to renew my passport with the change of name…. I paid for a fast track service which normally takes a week… The passport office sent me my new passport within 2 days. The only question they asked was why do you want to change your name.. and i said i'm an author who uses a pseudonym and i would like to now use that as my actual name.. There was clearly no problems… I then applied to a new bank provider under my new name without proof of address, so they gave me a basic account… which was fine. Based on my actions I recently had a CRB check done to work for a sales company and it came back clear… So I know my new name is untainted…… Obviously my finger prints are not as they were taken in 2007… My daughter really wants to go to new york to see her grandmother… My mother moved to america when i was very young… I too want to see my mother as she's recently been diagnosed with incurable cancer and she's too ill to travel herself…. I would die inside if I couldn't see her one last time before she passes away.... I want to travel under the VWP and of course I'm going to have to tick "No" to having a criminal conviction… All of this being fine…. But my passport for arguments sake state (fake names) "arnold swarchenegger"… but my finger prints will say "sly stallone"….. obviously going to the embassy is not an option because i will be refused….. My fear is getting on the plane having said no criminal conviction…. then getting to the biometrics device sticking my fingers in there.. then it coming back that i have a criminal record for robbery and possession of cannabis along with my old name which obviously will differ from my passport…. My actions have allowed me to get a job now with fear of losing my job… I've been out of prison for almost four years now… i'm not going to re-offend… I spent 3 and a half years in jail it was very tough…. What do you think will happen when I put my hands in the finger print machine? I'm sorry for the length of my post, it's just I couldn't find anything posted that was similar in terms of the name change and the type of offence also. Thank you for your time guys…. I'm so worried… But I need advice so badly…….. I so wish I never got myself into this messed up situation…. Crime does not pay

US Customs do not have access to our Biometrics System. I am 100% certain of this. The only way they can obtain records like that is through interpol channels which they will only do if they are suspicious that you're not being honest about something.

654. Posted by Narissa1980 (Budding Member 4 posts) 2y

Hi I have a question we are planning a family holiday to florida and my husband was charged with affray 14 years and received 180 hours community service (no prison time) would this need to be declared on the esta? He has not been arrested since.

655. Posted by mvilla123 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 2y

Like many of you, I have spent the past month reviewing forums hoping to get the 'magic answer' to my dilemma. My advice to you at this point, is that you're not going to find it. Yes, it is a stressful process but this is probably due to the fact that the decision is out of your hands. Anyway, here is my story.

So, I am getting married in the near future. My partner and I have been to America before on two occasions and prior to these visits, I had visited the US with my family around 6/7 times. On each visit, I completed an ESTA and waltzed in. No problems.

About 7 months ago, I got into a fight on a night out in London. Some guys didn't like the look of me, words exchanged, punches thrown, night in the cells and caution for section 39 of Common Assault. No fine or court involvement. Slap on the wrist and a telling off from the desk sergeant. It was a really stupid mistake and not my finest hour.

When it came to planning our honeymoon, my partner and I went through the ESTA process like many of you at this point, I came up against the dreaded 'Moral Turpitude' question. 'What does that even mean?' 'Does a caution count'?! I spent the next few days reading every forum I could find which, on reflection, was a mistake. This is where the anxiety builds and you're constantly searching for those 'it will be fine', I just walked in no problem' posts. Yes, these do exist but every case is judged on its own.

So I ticked 'no'. I hadn't been sent to prison. I accepted the caution and I am not, in anyway, a threat to anyone. Put it behind you and get on with the rest of your life....

Then, I woke up one night and had a mild panic attack about the issue in question. It had been playing on my mind for a few days and I couldn't focus on much else. I then realised I couldn't take the risk. I wanted to enjoy the build up to my honeymoon and it wouldn't be fair to my partner or the people that are helping us to put our big day together. No question about it - I had to apply for the B2.

When i began this process, It was very overwhelming. I didn't understand what paperwork was needed, when you booked an appointment and how much it cost. So my advice to anyone reading this, is first, you need to read everything on the Embassy site back to back. I then filled in a DS160 which is a very comprehensive and difficult document to negotiate. You must answer everything truthfully and give us much detail as you can. Employment, education, travel history, address etc - all these things matter. I also had to spend £20 to get a VISA photo taken which was another pain to deal with.

Once you fill in the application, you submit it online, pay £100 and it generates a code. You then have to visit the booking site and fill in your details to book an appointment. It then gives you various date options and I managed to arrange one for 8 days time. Now, the problem I created for myself is that if you have criminal record, you MUST get hold of your ACPO certificate. This in official record of your criminal convictions and they do ask for it on the day. I had a v.small window to get hold of this so I spent the best of part of a day getting more photos taken, a character reference from a friend, proof of address etc. Much more difficult to get together than the DS160.

You have two payment options with the ACPO - £80 for a 4 day service or £35(i think) for a day 10 wait. I had no choice with this but what I would say is that before you book your appointment, get hold of this first. It will spell out just what your offence(s) was and how to fill it in the form. This arrived 4 days after I posted it much to my relief.

In the build up to the interview, I got myself prepared. Banks statements, work contract, tenancy agreement, character reference from a friend who is a policeman, proof of address, my wedding invitation and CV. Basically, anything I could use to prove that I am a tax paying, respectable citizen who made a daft mistake.

Whilst I am doing all of this, I kept thinking about the fact that I had already completed my ESTA incorrectly. Would they notice and pull me up on it? It was a honest mistake so I made the decision that if I was pulled up about it, I would say that yes, I had ticked no and I was granted an ESTA. However, I didn't know what 'Moral Turpitude 'referred to and by going through the B2 process, I was demonstrating that I was attempting to be transparent. One of the many things I was worried about but it was too late . So I waited for my 8:00am appointment.

When you get to the Embassy for a morning appointment - get there early. I arrived at 7:20am and there was already a large queue. You need to take your appointment approval letter and passport which was cross checked and you then join another queue. You go through a security center which after you pass through, you walk round to the main reception where you are given a ticket and told to wait for your number to be called. You sit in a large waiting area which yes, is very much like an airport lounge. I was called up after 15 minutes and spoke to a staff member who is stationed behind a booth. The asked my reasons for travel, the length of stay and for my police certificate. The staff are very nice and have a busy job to do. Your details are punched in and you have to then go back to wait.

This was the worst part. From what I could gather, those with a criminal record, all had to visit window 17 which is a separate room from the other windows. I was called up and presented myself to the staff member who was very nice and asked reasons for travel, did I work, what was my job, do I own a property etc.

At this point, you must be calm, smile and answer all the questions as best as you can. Don't drag out all of the paperwork unless you are asked. The staff member went through the details and said I seemed credible and I was granted a 10 year visa. About 5 minutes in total

All done! A very stressful process. However, am glad I went through it. Do the US have all the details on a system? I very much doubt it but I couldn't take the risk. It cost a fortune and I had a few sleepless nights but the way I see it is, if you are worried about a minor conviction and you have a steady job and you're well presented - you should be fine. Show respect fro the process and be well prepared. On reflection, I probably opened up a can of worms but I had to do it.

The entire process only becomes a problem if you are trying to hide something. They will know if you are holding anything back and the appreciate honesty. They are not trying to prevent everyone who has had a run in with the law from entering the US. This is about ensuring that by letting you enter the US, you're a) not going to stay beyond your agreed time and b) that you're not going to endanger anyone in anyway. If you can say no to both these questions - you will be fine.

Finally, what I would say about my experience is reading these forums can be a little toxic. Hundreds of people ask the 'will I be ok?' question and the honest answer is, we don't know. People can give you his honest opinion, which trust me, is not going to solve your problems. Yes, you're essentially handing over your information over to the US government voluntarily but it is entirely up to you whether you do this or not. I could have been rejected today and this post would have been a different story all together. I wasn't and I'm glad I went through with it.

Good luck to all those who are going through something similar.

Tips

- dress smart
- remain calm
- be prepared.
- get your ACPO before you book an appointment
- Be honest

656. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 2y

'mvilla123'
First of all, thank you for posting your experience with the US Embassy in UK. This will help members make a their decision to tick 'no' on the ESTA or go through the process.

Second, was alcohol involved with your night on the town? We all know someone (ourselves perhaps?) that have made bad decisions while drinking. My sister and several friends have died due to alcohol so that is one mistake that I will never make again.

Congrats on your coming wedding. I hope you have a grand time while in the US. If you are coming to Vegas, give me a shout. I will get you a free show or 2 while you are here.

657. Posted by MrVegasBaby (First Time Poster 1 posts) 2y

I used this forum to scare myself silly before I rolled the dice back in September 2013.

I am a UK citizen and was found guilty of common assault and carried out 40hours of unpaid work in 2012. I did not mention any of this on my ESTA and got into Vegas from Manchester without any problem whatsoever. I also took an internal flight from Vegas to New York before returning home, again no problems.

Anyone with similar, please relax and roll the dice, your numbers will come up and you'll have an amazing time!!

658. Posted by KHandRB (Budding Member 5 posts) 2y

Me and my boyfriend would like to go to Florida with my family but we both have records and i have no idea if this would effect it

659. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2422 posts) 2y

And you're expecting someone to comment when you give zero information whatsoever? Nationality, what were the convictions, when did they happen, what was the final sentence, etc. etc. etc... that's all crucial info.

Have fun reading through the thread. I'm sure your situation has been addressed dozens of times.

Cheers,
Terry

660. Posted by KHandRB (Budding Member 5 posts) 2y

The thread says uk, I don't want to put to much personal information internet but the last charge was when i was 19 im now 22 and i got bail and probation for domestic disturbance i think it was (even though i wasn't there but if 3 people said it, it must be true). We were both wild as teens but have grown up since. I have a police assault charge from when i was 18 but considering im 4.8 and weight about 6 im not much threat to anyone. My boyfriend has a charge to do with a weapon he got when he's 15 but was tried once he was 16. When he was 19 he was charged for breaking and entry into a chemists he was drunk and followed his idiot so called friend but his sentence reflected that he just received a curfew which he breached and was remanded for 2 days and the other lad got a quite a while in jail. He also has some lesser charges which he's received probation and c.s but breached so done a few month when he was 17. On paper it realy looks bad :\

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Mar-2014, at 20:42 by KHandRB ]

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