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USA Travel - Criminal Convictions

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1. Posted by dicko63 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

dicko63 has indicated that this thread is about USA

H E L P
About 8 months ago, I took a plea in respect to an assault charge and an assault charge (occasioning actual bodily harm).
I used to travel to the USA regularly but have not travelled there for 10 years.
Given what has been written about the Visa Waiver Program which I have travelled under in previous visits to the USA, what should I do in respect to a trip I have planned in the next month.
Should I take a risk and travel there and hope that I dont come under any scrutiny OR get my a**e into gear and apply for a visa from the US Consul in Sydney stating my case etc?
Any help would be well received.
p.s. I only got wind of this via an article in the newspaper recently otherwise I would of travelled to the USA completely unaware of this scenario until I filled in the immigration form on my flight. Is it possible to take the risk and apply for the visa after arriving into the USA? Or is that too risky?
Graeme (dicko)

2. Posted by kevandshan (Full Member 142 posts) 8y

Hey Dicko,
OBH, I'm guessing this was your first offence and that you were given a CBO or something??
No suspended sentence??
\Anyway....here is the deal,
VW program states that you must declare convictions. DO NOT attempt to enter the US and then decide to apply for a visa, you will be deported and contravene US Federal Law...thereby preventing you from re-entering again.

You could risk going, however the risk is still the same. They will not have records of your conviction (in most cases) however it is easy for them to find this.

Best advice is to apply for a visa, that way (if granted) you can't be denied entry. At least call the embassy and make enquiries. I personally believe that you would make it on the VW, but I don't know your history...there may be other factors. Do the right thing and do it legally, if you want to risk it...then other than being caught you are not really changing your habits are you? (no offence...)

Good luck, hope you make the right choice.

P.S--not to make the decision any harder for you, but the staff at the embassy in Sydney are a real pain in the a&%se.......

3. Posted by dicko63 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Kev
Thanks for that.
Yeah, I got convicted (well I accepted guilt actually and thus got convicted) and I got a 2 year bond.
Some call that getting off and I guess I kinda thought that until I have "read between the lines" etc.
Travelling overseas, particularly the USA is one point.
Others are too many to mention including applying for certain jobs that require a clearance of sorts.
Anyway, back to the point......I have made an appointment to see the US Consulate next week (kinda happy that an appointment was available so soon). So yeah, I made the "right" decision.
After reading the US Consul website on this type of situation and that my case was recent and I have all the court records anyway, I have decided NOT to get the police certificate that the US Consul website talks about, to support my visa application.
I am hoping that given that my offence was relatively minor (if assault is such), that "moral terpitude" (what a saying) does not include my situation....hopefully....and I will get the visa accordingly.
Also, hoping that given I have been to the USA like 12 times before this, would add some kind of value to it.
I guess (rightfully or wrongfully) I would be more worried IF I had never been to the USA and I had this conviction etc.
But yeah, other than DUI charges 20 years plus ago, this is my 1st offence.
Funny, I never thought that DUI would be a big deal either and in the past, I never saw this as a conviction and thus never declared this as a conviction and was always let in under the VW program.
Funny how when you are unaware of some things, you walk tall (if you get my drift).
So I see them on monday and will let you know how I go......
Please reply to my other bits above if relative.....
Thanks again.
Dicko
p.s. your comments have earned you a beer.......now all I want is that visa!!

4. Posted by minidriver (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

I posted a thread very close to this last month. I had the dilema of should I risk it or go about it the right way. I chose the honest approach and I'm glad I did. I obtained my visa yesterday in Belfast, and yes it was a pain in the arse but I can now relax when I go through immigration in New York.

I was literally interviewed for 5 minutes and the staff at the embassy were so nice to me, from the guys on security to the lady who granted my visa. And I received my passport in the post the next day.

If you plan on visiting the states more than once and you lie the first time then you'll always have to lie because if at a later date you decide to come clean then they'll know you lied before and that'll jeopardise any chances of getting a visa.

One more thing, while I was waiting, I saw loads of people come in who hadn't brought the correct paperwork with them so they were turned away. Make sure you check the website and take everything you need, specially the DS156.

I'm happy now, and can't wait to get to New York!

5. Posted by kevandshan (Full Member 142 posts) 8y

Dicko,
I think that you have made the right decision. The DD charges are not a problem, especially being so long ago. The penalty also shows that it was relatively minor.
Like minidriver said, be sure to have your paperwork with you, be organised, and listen o what they ask for. Consular officials are usually polite, but can also be very direct--particularly US officials...if you get my drift!
Hopefully everything works out for you and you get to the States okay.
Not to scare you or anything, but assault is a serious offence, and is likely considered to be regarded as such by the US. I don't know your situation, but guessing on the GBB sentencing that it was minor.
That's the thing with pleading down a charge, you take your chances...the only thing I will say (as a lawyer) is never accept guilt for something that you were not responsible for

Best of luck and let me know if you get your visa!

Regards

Kev:)

P.S --use the previous trips to the US, your clean record, and character IF ASKED (for example) why a visa should be issued to you. Again, I do not know the circumstances of your offence( and don't want to ), but if they are looking for a reason why they should give it to you....GIVE IT TO THEM!

6. Posted by dicko63 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Kev

For your info and those of the forum, I saw the US Consul today and they did not see my minor assault charge of late as a crime involving "moral terpitude".

It was explained that the definition of this is the "intent to harm" more than anything. Maybe assault is not that big of deal whereas there are many more serious offences relating to harming someone (ie rape, manslaughter etc). I really dunno but when they said that my case didnt fit the bill etc, it was like music to my ears.

They did say however, that I must say yes to the question on the form when I enter the USA that I have a conviction etc but my passport will have a visa in it anyway and that will give me entry (as it was explained to me anyways).

I didnt ask however about the future, whether I can still travel under the Visa Waiver Program after my current visa expires BUT I suspect that I can travel under the VWP in future.

Thanks for your thoughts and I can sleep easy tonight until I travel in 3 weeks time.

Regards
Dicko