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Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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871. Posted by houmous-enjoyer (Budding Member 12 posts) 1y


Sorry to pile onto this thread with my own specific version of worries, but it is something I want to make sure I get clear answers on before I proceed.

About 6 months ago, I was arrested and given a simple caution for possession of a class B drug. Now, I know the general advice on the internet is just to lie on the ESTA form and the chances of being caught are rather negligible (I'm yet to find a single account of this not working), but I'm assuming everyone who does this is foregoing any chance of getting any kind of US VISA in the future? Be it for work or study?

Under that assumption, I'm drawn towards getting a waiver of ineligibility. I'm looking to be going there next March, so I'd like to start the process now. What I'd like to know should I go down this route is:

a.) Is there even any point in me trying for a waiver right now? Or will they tell me it's too soon since my 'conviction' and to come back in 5 years?

b.) How much money should I have at the ready for the entire process? I hear I am likely to be asked to undergo a VERY expensive drug test as part of the process.

c.) Will they ask me if I have ever used drugs? And will the answer to that question draw the process to an immediate halt? It would seem strange seeing as I am looking for a waiver based on a previous drug arrest.

Thanks in advance to anyone who has any advice to offer; it's something I worry about daily and you'll be going a long way to put my mind at ease!

872. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2477 posts) 1y

First of all, as with almost all questions regarding Visas you fail to mention the single most important piece of information, your nationality.

That said I'll assume you're from the UK in which case your question has been answered countless times throughout the thread.

1.) The US and UK don't generally share "normal" criminal databases so you're fairly safe to forget the incident ever happened.

2.) Your chances of getting a Waiver on a brand new drug conviction is slim to none and slim just left town.

3.) Yes, if you apply for a Work Permit in the future they'll see your conviction on the police record.

4.) Costs are clearly stated on the Department of Homeland Security Website. Google is your friend.

5.) Where in the world did you hear about an expensive mandatory drug test? Stop listening to whoever told you that.


873. Posted by houmous-enjoyer (Budding Member 12 posts) 1y

Hi Terry, thanks very much for the response!

Yes I am indeed a UK national. Apologies for omitting that.

I appreciate that the chances of having a problem with the ESTA are almost none, yet still use of the phrases 'generally not shared' and 'fairly safe to forget' are not altogether comforting.

Furthermore on this point, anyone who successfully lies on their ESTA are surely assuming that they will never have to work and/or reside stateside for the rest of their lives, as even if their convictions are forgiven they will be guilty of fraud or misrepresentation when an immigration official sees that they have since travelled to the US on the VWP?

[ Edit: Edited on 31-Mar-2015, at 10:42 by houmous-enjoyer ]

874. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2477 posts) 1y

Unfortunately 'generally not shared' and 'fairly safe to forget' are necessary terms because unless ALL the paperwork is sitting in front of me it's impossible to predict anything with 100% certainty - there can always be extenuating circumstances. I've given advice a couple of times on this thread to morons who didn't tell me the whole story so when it blew up in their face they blamed me instead of their own idiocy.

There are a pile of possible outcomes to your last paragraph, it's too complicated to get into here but suffice to say that nothing is ever written in stone.


875. Posted by houmous-enjoyer (Budding Member 12 posts) 1y

Wow, on what pages did that happen? Just for my own morbid curiousity...

I think I'll postpone any US travel for 2 or 3 years perhaps - just until I have a better chance of getting a waiver. In the mean time there's a whole world to explore, and it's encouraged me to give my support to drug law reform charities.

Thanks for the pointers Terry, you're long suffering on this thread and I'm sure everyone is grateful for it.

876. Posted by happybeet (Budding Member 3 posts) 1y

Terry, thank you for your kind response and quick advice. Do you think I should declare this shoplifting incident in Hongkong on my Canadian PR form at all??? I am asked to get a police clearance certificate from my country which I am hoping has no knowledge of this incident. please help. Thanks

877. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2477 posts) 1y

happybeet, with all due respect I've answered your question twice now. It's up to you to decide what to do with the information.

Good luck.


878. Posted by Chacur7 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y


With the Uk border checks tightening their controls as of today, how will this affect people travelling from the UK to the USA with an unspent criminal conviction?

Would they be stopped in the Uk before they even board the plane?

Apologies if this is a silly question!

Many thanks

879. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2477 posts) 1y

Think about it for a minute... can you imagine the absolute chaos not to mention the legal ramifications if Airline Check-In Agents were all of a sudden given the power to access criminal databases and decide on the spot if people could or couldn't travel abroad?! It would be utter insanity.

Don't worry abut this... no country on the planet has this policy in place...


880. Posted by Chacur7 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y

Hey Terry,

That is great- definitely put my mind at ease.


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