Visa application worries

Travel Forums North America Visa application worries

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1. Posted by Skinnermann (Budding Member 10 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Hi all. I realise there has already been countless posts on this topic, but anyway........we booked a holiday to Orlando next year - February - primarily for the kids. I was oblivious to the visa waiver requirements. In 1991 - age 21 - I was arrested and fined £80 for possession of about 10 quids worth of cannabis. I've never been in trouble since. I'm not dodging anything, and want to start the Visa application. My question primarily - and I know it's a case by case basis - is that I have read somewhere that an offence for possession of less than 30g would be OK - or does that only apply if my Visa was rejected and I had to apply for the subsequent waiver? I realise that, having idiotically booked flights in advance, the decision from the waiver application probably wouldn't be made in time for our holiday. Any help would be greatly received!!

2. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 448 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

I applaud your 'not dodging anything' attitude. There are many who would tell you to just lie on the ESTA application. If you did so the chances are that nothing untoward would occur though you should know that lying on an ESTA is regarded as fraud and is potentially a criminal offence in the US....and, of course, if you ever needed to apply for a US visa in future having lied in the past would create major problems.

>I have read somewhere that an offence for possession of less than 30g would be OK - or does that only apply if my Visa was rejected and I had to apply for the subsequent waiver?

When it comes to US visas I'm afraid there simply aren't any hard & fast rules of that type. The decision whether a) to grant a visa, b) to recommend you to apply for a waiver of ineligibility or c) to refuse a visa altogether is made by the officer who deals with you on the day and is based on all the relevant info plus how you present yourself at interview and how you answer questions.

If that is your only criminal offence and, in the eyes of the interviewing officer, you are otherwise an 'upstanding citizen' then I see no reason why you should not be recommended to apply for a waiver. As we cannot know all your personal circumstances neither I nor anyone else can say whether it is possible for an officer to grant you a visa on the day.

As you already know, processing a waiver of ineligibility can take a long time. The Belfast US Embassy suggests a shorter processing time (3-4 months) than the London one (6-8 months) but there are no guarantees and no way of speeding-up (expediting) the process.

I suggest you get the visa application done and arrange your interview appointment as soon as possible. If you do not live in NI but decide to apply via Belfast do be prepared to explain, if asked at interview, why you have done so (i.e. having already booked the holiday without realising visa requirements).

The only thing to do is to get the process underway as soon as possible. You might also contact your holiday provider *now* to find out if you can change holiday dates rather than entirely lose your deposit. or, worse, the full cost of the holiday. Once you've had your interview ...hopefully by mid-October...you'll know whether you're waiting for a waiver or not so can decide what to do about the holiday.

I do wish you the best of luck! :-)

.

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Sep-2018, at 05:28 by leics2 ]

3. Posted by Skinnermann (Budding Member 10 posts) 12w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for that. Ok so i apply for a visa, best case its granted. This only allows me to travel to the point of entry. I'm guessing the chances they would then refuse me entry are quite high? Would they scrutinise me more as I haven't applied for an ESTA? Just need to cover all bases. I don't mind being refused entry.....but I can't put the kids through it if there's still a chance. Thanks again.

4. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 448 posts) 12w 1 Star this if you like it!

>This only allows me to travel to the point of entry.

No, the visa allows you to enter the country unless border officers decide otherwise. That is exactly the same as all visas for all countries. Novisa guarantees you entry into any country.

>Would they scrutinise me more as I haven't applied for an ESTA?

I very much doubt it. UK citizens get visas rather than ESTAs for a myriad of reasons. It's not just because they have a criminal record!

>I'm guessing the chances they would then refuse me entry are quite high?

I have absolutely no idea why you should think that. Once you have been granted a visa your chances of being questioned in more detail at the border.....let alone actually being denied entry.......are no higher than any other UK citizen.

You say you were convicted of a very minor drug offence well over 10 years ago. That's really not a big deal and the fact that you have a visa shows that border officers consider you to be appropriate for entry. The chances of any border officer giving your visa more than the normal check or questioning you in more than the usual detail are, imo, miniscule.

> I can't put the kids through it if there's still a chance.

I understand that but you really are over-thinking this. There is always a chance, in theory. b]No-one[/b] has the absolute right to enter any country other than the one of which they are citizens. No visa or visa waiver for any country 100% guarantees entry : there is always the possibility of refusal at the border.

You (and anyone else) can be refused entry to any of the EU countries (even before Brexit) just as you can be refused entry to any other country which requires a visa or operates a visa waiver system. That's the way it works across the world. So does knowing that mean you won't ever go abroad until the kids are grown and flown? I very sincerely hope not........

Focus your efforts on getting that application in, gathering paperwork to support it (the more you have the better, even if it's not asked for). organising an interview as speedily as possible and sorting out your potential holiday options if things go awry.

:-)

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Sep-2018, at 09:18 by leics2 ]

5. Posted by friendspoint (Inactive 2 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Useful information for those person who don't know about what are the basic needs & requirements when apply for visa. There are various rules are for visa confirmation.

6. Posted by karenkaren (Budding Member 21 posts) 10w Star this if you like it!

hi, I have very similar history to u (possession of tiny amount cannabis 24 yrs ago), long story short... I am in usa with a 5 yr waiver.
Lots of people will advise u to lie on the esta. Dont! it not worth it, (I had an expensive complicated nightmare because I erroneously used an esta)... especially as a 1 off possession from 20+ yrs ago will definitely get the waiver.

the under 30g rule which u referred to, applies to the only drugs exception where you can still apply for a green card - irrelevant for a hol.

Again, particular members would advise u to lie on the esta and maybe that is worth it for someone who has more serious crimes and its their only way of entering USA but for you that wouldn't be the case, go an apply for your visa, it will get initially declined until you waiver is approved, but when that happens (it definitely will!), you can travel without worry.
also, one last point... -snip- a previous poster wrote about that you will be questioned as to why you applied to Belfast consulate rather than London. It is perfectly acceptable for you to apply to either and thats exactly what I did as it was cheaper for me to get to Belfast than London (not to mention quicker processing times). Of all the questions u may get asked, that won't be one of them!!

good luck

Moderator comment: please see Forum Rules

[ Edit: Keep it nice please. Link to Forum Rules added. ]

7. Posted by karenkaren (Budding Member 21 posts) 10w Star this if you like it!

sorry, if I wasn't clear about this... your visa will 100% get declined at first. I was told by my consular officer that many things are a grey area and down to discretion however, violating a law regarding a controlled substance is not one of them. It is very black and white and any drug conviction makes u inadmissible. Again not a problem, just a set back ....until u get the waiver and then you will be admissible

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Sep-2018, at 21:58 by karenkaren ]

8. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 448 posts) 10w Star this if you like it!

> -snip- a previous poster wrote about that you will be questioned as to why you applied to Belfast consulate rather than London. Of all the questions u may get asked, that won't be one of them!!

Karenkaren, you have useful personal experience to share but there is no need to be rude about or denigrate the advice given by other members.

Whilst you personally might not have been asked why you applied through Belfast rather than London, others may have been (and, to my knowledge, at least one individual has). Neither you nor anyone else can possibly know what questions any one individual has been or will be asked during a visa interview so it's best to be as prepared as possible.

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Sep-2018, at 23:15 by leics2 ]

9. Posted by karenkaren (Budding Member 21 posts) 10w 1 Star this if you like it!

Leics2....-snip- Yes he may get asked a general question about anything but you are wrongly scaremongering him into thinking it is a negative to go to Belfast, when it is a perfectly viable and legal alternative.

[ Edit: Keep the tone friendly please. ]

10. Posted by Dobby1967 (Budding Member 9 posts) 9w Star this if you like it!

Travelling to USA in June 2019.

My wife is booking a holiday to Orlando for 2 weeks in June 2019.

I have a criminal record that involves 6 different offences !!!! I am a different person to who I was 20 odd years ago.

Aged 14 (1981) theft and burglary
Aged 16 (1983) theft
Aged 18 (1985) criminal damage
Aged 22 (1989) obstruction of police officer
Aged 24 (1991) possession of cannabis and amphetamines
Aged 33 (2000) shoplifting (theft)

No further offending and am registered as a social worker dealing with vulnerable adults in UK for last 5 years so will not apply for ESTA as not being dishonest again !!

What do you think are chances of getting a visa?

Have references from employer (who is aware of my previous) and several other references from local councillors for voluntary work I do