I have a friend of mine who is hoping to travel to the United States to visit me here. He has a criminal record, but all of his crimes were committed when he was under the age of 18. He has recently turned 18, and has turned over a new leaf to not get himself into any more trouble. Will his convictions be counted against him that he is now 18? He has never served a jail sentence, but again, he does have convictions from I believe a little more than a year ago. For travel and entry into the United States, what would be the best course of action for him to get here? Should he worry about difficulties at customs, or should he be prepared in advance with the proper (and lengthy) paperwork. Any ideas?
Questions on travelling to the the U with a criminal record get asked on here often, so I suggest you search the site for some of the responses already posted to other threads.
Generally, though, you need to ask the local US embassy--because the rules change so often and are in constant flux at the current time.
Well, I have already looked at the earlier threads, but I have found nothing as it relates to age and convictions. That is why I created a new thread, because I wasn't sure if at 18 a person receives a clean record or if it stays with them.
Though your friend committed his offenses and received convictions while still a minor (by US standards), turning 18 does not necessarily wipe the slate clean. The type of crimes committed, the type of convictions received, the time of his last conviction (you "believe a little more than a year ago"), the time since he completed his sentence (even though no jail time was issued) and if he actually has fulfilled his obligations to the court's satisfaction will all be taken into consideration.
Possession of marijuana for personal use will be viewed differently than possession with intent to sell and/or distribute. Crimes such as vehicular theft or assault and battery with a weapon will have different consideration than drug possession. Assault could be as simple as a bar fight which will mean little but assault with the intent to steal from someone at knifepoint - completely different.
You have already answered your own question. "...should he be prepared in advance with the proper (and lengthy) paperwork." Absolutely! Your friend should request copies from the authorities and courts for all of his paperwork involving those convictions - if he does not have those already. He then should contact the closest US Embassy to speak with someone in the Consular's office. He may be requested to attend an interview to explain his situation. He committed the crimes and must be responsible for them even though he has (supposedly) paid his dues for them. (I say "supposedly" since we only have your comments to base our comments upon. No offense meant - we just don't have his history at hand.) Taking care of this matter through the proper channels now could save him from being immediately placed back on the next plane home at his own expense. Since you can not enter the immigration area, he could still be stopped from seeing you if they deny him entry.