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travelling to u.s with criminal record!!??

Travel Forums North America travelling to u.s with criminal record!!??

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1. Posted by lori1980 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y

Hi,

I realise this sort of question has been asked several times in the past and I'm sorry to bring it up again but I have read so so many threads and forums on this subject that I think I am now confusing myself!! Myself and family are travelling to florida in 3wks and I have just discovered that if you have a criminal record then you need a visa of some sort?? My partner has had a conviction (theft by finding and breach of the peace) resulting in a fine of some sort around 6/7 years ago! We have already filled out the form online through ESTA (prev the form you filled out on plane) and no issues arose with that - he got accepted as he answered the questions truthfully on it. (none of his convictions came under moral turpitude or anything else asked) It was after this was done that someone mentioned needing a visa to travel and having done a search online I have now become a little worried reading all the different answers!! (and confused!! ) Alot of the threads I have came across have been from a couple of years ago so I was hoping to find out some more recent views about this. As its only weeks away I gather it would be too late to do anything regarding getting visa and now everything is booked and paid in full! Any sort of feedback/helpful suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks.

2. Posted by murphc09 (Budding Member 57 posts) 5y

Hi,

There's been a few threads on here recently with people asking the same question, from what I can remember the jist of it was to not declare your record as the American Government don't hold your details so they couldn't tell either way. To be honest I'd check with the Embassy first and seek professional advice as you never know.

I'll try a search now and see if I can find the other thread.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-May-2009, at 08:47 by murphc09 ]

3. Posted by s96024 (Full Member 106 posts) 5y

Don't give them any information about yourself. That is exactly what they want you to do. There is no way they can find out about minor crimes like that without you telling them. Only if you were convicted on a serious crime or were a wanted person would they know. Just go, answer no and have fun. :D

4. Posted by lori1980 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y

Thanks, think we are just going to have to go with it now and take the chance! It's too close to do anything about it! I have no idea how people are supposed to know about these things if it has never came up before and therefore I am sure there are many people travelling none the wiser with a criminal record! We have had this booked since last sept and as my mum booked the flights and hired villa there were no travel agents to inform us of this kind of thing! Anyway - if anything new crops up let me know! I will post here to let you all know if we had any problems - hopefully it's all smooth and we can have the great holiday we have planned!!!

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

I am assuming that having done the ESTA that you are coming from a Visa Waiver country?

Best advice, check with the embassy/ consulate....although that can be easier said than done (ie waiting on phone forever!)

The ESTA is a pre-approval process designed to give the authorities more notice on your intended travel. Most of what authorities discover is through prior intelligence...I can't explain what it is that is done, but they are not going to be would not be interested.

Having said this, a theft charge from 6 years ago is probably not something that would exclude you/ him from the States. As a lawyer, I would not recommend lying to officials. Having said that, declaring that you have a criminal record might expose you to denial of entry?

I don't think you will have a problem, and you will find that it is not even a question for the Visa Waiver. The ESTA allows the autorities to check databases for serious criminals/ criminal links. It is unlikely that they are interested in your petty crime (no offence:)). I would answer the questions truthfully, that is always the best way....but you should also decide at the time what your gut tells you.

Don't panic, check with the Embassy if you can. If not, you have already been approved to travel. The VW questions will only relate to terrorism, kidnapping, treason etc. They couldn't care less about theft.....they are not the police....they are customs and interested in that you are a suitable person for travel....they don't care if you smoke pot.....but they will bust you if you import it (ie- not interested in trivial matters).

One final point...I have worked where visas were cancelled because a "criminal conviction" was answered in the negative, when it shouldn't have been. Those people, no matter what the crime was, had their visas cancelled! Avoid lying if possible....try to milk or bend the rules if you can (although I didn't say this).

I hope you get my drift...I don't believe it will be an issue for you. So long as there is no drug, terrorism, kidnapping, alterior political motives, treason etc charges/ beliefs....you will be fine. They are not even going to ask you, plus as per the ESTA...you already have an approval to travel!

Have a great time..and in summation.....I wouldn't even mention it!

6. Posted by s96024 (Full Member 106 posts) 5y

Quoting kevandshan

I am assuming that having done the ESTA that you are coming from a Visa Waiver country?

Best advice, check with the embassy/ consulate....although that can be easier said than done (ie waiting on phone forever!)

The ESTA is a pre-approval process designed to give the authorities more notice on your intended travel. Most of what authorities discover is through prior intelligence...I can't explain what it is that is done, but they are not going to be would not be interested.

Having said this, a theft charge from 6 years ago is probably not something that would exclude you/ him from the States. As a lawyer, I would not recommend lying to officials. Having said that, declaring that you have a criminal record might expose you to denial of entry?

I don't think you will have a problem, and you will find that it is not even a question for the Visa Waiver. The ESTA allows the autorities to check databases for serious criminals/ criminal links. It is unlikely that they are interested in your petty crime (no offence:)). I would answer the questions truthfully, that is always the best way....but you should also decide at the time what your gut tells you.

Don't panic, check with the Embassy if you can. If not, you have already been approved to travel. The VW questions will only relate to terrorism, kidnapping, treason etc. They couldn't care less about theft.....they are not the police....they are customs and interested in that you are a suitable person for travel....they don't care if you smoke pot.....but they will bust you if you import it (ie- not interested in trivial matters).

One final point...I have worked where visas were cancelled because a "criminal conviction" was answered in the negative, when it shouldn't have been. Those people, no matter what the crime was, had their visas cancelled! Avoid lying if possible....try to milk or bend the rules if you can (although I didn't say this).

I hope you get my drift...I don't believe it will be an issue for you. So long as there is no drug, terrorism, kidnapping, alterior political motives, treason etc charges/ beliefs....you will be fine. They are not even going to ask you, plus as per the ESTA...you already have an approval to travel!

Have a great time..and in summation.....I wouldn't even mention it!

It actually says on the website that it is not a guarantee of entry.

You are required to tell them about any offence where you have been arrested, clearly theft will have been an arrestable offence. So you either lie or you declare it. If you lie there is no way they can find out, if you declare it the least you are going to get is some questioning. Why bother.

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

It actually says on the website that it is not a guarantee of entry.

You are required to tell them about any offence where you have been arrested, clearly theft will have been an arrestable offence. So you either lie or you declare it. If you lie there is no way they can find out, if you declare it the least you are going to get is some questioning. Why bother.

ESTA is a movement approval. As I said it basically gives the authorities time to do their searches. They know who they want before they even get on the plane. You wont have a problem.

They can find out anything they want , not that they would remotely be interested in what he has done.

It is up to you...it sounds like he wasn't arrested, and that he only received a fine.... they are not going to care about it. It really comes down to character. Some people go throughout life with dishonesty and get away with it, but make a false declaration, get caught, earn yourself a felony charge, and forget about entry, staying, going back...that is the reason to bother.

The law is the law, do the right thing and you generally wont have a problem...character has a huge thing to do with it.

Best check with the embassy or an immigration lawyer if really concerned. It is not a big deal, just be aware of the concequences...that's all.

Have a great trip I''m sure it will be fine no matter what you decide to do

8. Posted by s96024 (Full Member 106 posts) 5y

If a company wants to do a criminal records check on a UK citizen that person has to agree to it being done. The UK does not share criminal information with other EU countries, as much as the EU would like this to be the case. If they won't agree to share information with other EU countries there is no way they share them with the US. Only serious crimes, murder, rape, paedophilia e.t.c could possibly be looked up by other countries either through Interpol or recorded on your passport. I highly doubt they would stop you visitng for minor crimes, but I don't want them knowing anything about me that i don't need to tell them.

9. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 5y

The very simplest way of dealing with this, is to contact the USA Consulate and ask them. They may call you in for a quick chat (though I doubt it) and whatever their response to your call or letter, they'll have the answers for you.
Good luck.

10. Posted by lori1980 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y

Hi, thanks to all who gave advice. We got back from florida over a week ago now and had absolutely no problems going through. We had to fill the same form we had done online on the plane again as there are still some problems with the online system. He was asked same questions as the rest of us, fingerprint scanned and eye scan which I believe is just for their records incase anything happens whilst you are in the country and they have everyone won file at the time. We had great holiday and whilst we are normally honest people I am glad we kept quiet about it as would have cost us more money to go to the U.S embassay and with the chance that he might have got refused anyway! My partner answered the visa waiver form truthfully anyway and we had a great holiday!!