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1. Posted by Pizzle11 (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y

This thread is marked as being about USA

Hi there,

I am a dual UK-NZ citizen and hold both passports. I recently booked a one-way flight returning to NZ via the USA. Stupidly I more recently (Dec. 2008) got a criminal record in the UK (minor offence [my one and only] dealt with at Magistrates Court in one-day including settling punishment - could not be referred to Crown Court).

My dilemma in short is, should I risk taking the flight I have booked and fly on my NZ passport in the hope that they will not have any record of my UK offence (I was charged as a UK citizen/resident) and that they will not examine me "thoroughly" on the basis that I am only Transitting (for about 4 hours)? Or do I bite the bullet and stump up £600 to fly some other route home?

I have read much on this and realise the only certain (well near certain) way is to approach the US Embassy, but I guess I am looking for other's opinions.

I will hope to visit (again) the USA (and Canada - I love both countries). As such, I am tending towards the, "Take Alternative Route Home" option, be good for 5 years or more then apply via the appropriate route.

I realise (time permitting) I could make an appointment with the US Embassy and try and get a Visa for transit, but as it is so close to the court date, I don't back my chances, even if it is a minor offence. When I do eventually apply for a visa via the "proper" route, I will want to be in a position that gives me the best chance possible; going via the proper route would mean ticking the "Criminal Record" box on the landing card. The last thing I want to have to tick aswell is the "I have previously been denied access to your country" box.

However, if someone out there knows for any certainty that if I were to fly via the USA on my NZ passport that US immigration are extremely unlikely to connect me to my UK identity and criminal record, I may consider going on my current flight and save myself the £600. With regard to this, I will say that I have a very unique name and doubt anyone in the world shares it; therefore, if they did a name check (do they do this?) the connection would surely be made.

Thanks in advance for any responses on what you would do if you were in a similar situation and why.

2. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 8y

No matter which passport you use, both are visa waiver countries, you will need to complete the ESTA requirements before travel as it includes transit in the USA. Have you attempted that?

3. Posted by jeantyc (Budding Member 72 posts) 8y

no matter which one you go with, since 911 security has been extremely tight

4. Posted by mot08 (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y

i had pretty much the exact same scenario last year apart from i just have a uk passport. i was going to new zealand but had to transit through los angeles. i couldn't be bothered with the hassle as i want to visit the states in the future so i don't see the point in risking it. i called the flight company 'air new zealand' and changed my flight so that it transited through shanghai, however i had to buy a visa for china which was relatively cheap and easy to get.

5. Posted by Pizzle11 (Budding Member 2 posts) 8y

I agree with you mot08 and have already booked a return flight via Asia. No point risking it as I hope that after keeping my nose clean for a while I will eventually return to the US & Canada.

I guess I am still interested know why certain "informed" people I talked to, seemed to think that US border control would not be able to connect my UK identity to my NZ passport...... Suppose I should just ask them!!

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

If you are transiting you will not have a problem (ie- not clearing Customs).

It will not matter as there is no immigration paperwork/ requirements for transiting pax.

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

One more thing....

2 passports are great...but there are things called stamps and other information available to Customs that are easily identified. I think that they would find the other passport....some people are lucky because they caught the Customs Officer dozing off....this is rare.

Most people caught for a Customs/ Immigration violation are caught because of a lie. It easy to find more information if something is suspected.

Also, a criminal offence will not necessarily exclude you. As long as you were not charged/ convicted of a terrorism or kidnapping/ gun trafficking/ drug trafficking etc....not really an issue, but you will likely need a visa (IF CLEARING CUSTOMS...IE-entering the U.S)

8. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 8y

Quoting kevandshan

If you are transiting you will not have a problem (ie- not clearing Customs).

It will not matter as there is no immigration paperwork/ requirements for transiting pax.

This is incorrect.

As I said in an earlier post, people from a visa waiver country who just transit also need to complete the ESTA requirements (or obtain a visa). This information can be found on page 6 of this FAQ document (pdf file) from the DHS.

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

Quoting Mojorob

This is incorrect
...Refer to my previous posts...

To clear any confusion...all passengers (whether visiting or transiting) require a ESTA. It is not a visa. There are no visa requirements, and certainly most criminal convictions/ charges will not exclude you from obtaining the ESTA.

The ESTA is a pre travel advice so that CBP can determine if there is any risk (ie terrorism). It is required for transiting, but there is no visa required. It can be done online also.

This is a good site, however people sometimes get confused with the regulations. If you have any doubts, call your local embassy/ consulate where you can obtain the correct advice.

10. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 8y

As we both have said, ESTA is not a visa - it is however an immigration requirement for a transiting passenger. It's actually the replacement for the I-94 form that was previously completed onboard the plane.

The document I linked to before does mention a visa as an alternative to ESTA for transiting passengers from visa waiver countries. This would largely only be required if the ESTA was refused.

The approval of an ESTA does not necessarily mean you will be allowed entry on arrival to the USA, as the final decision is down to the US immigration (CBP) officer. When transiting in the USA, you still go through passport control.