Traveling with Criminal Record

Travel Forums North America Traveling with Criminal Record

Last Post This thread is marked as being about Florida
1. Posted by JamieEighty (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone,

I have been scouring the Internet for months trying to put my mind at rest and I know this question has been asked but I wanted to try.

I was convicted for affray when I had just turned 18 (12 years ago) from what I can read online this is not a crime of moral turpitude.

I am a UK citizen and I'm due to travel to Florida with my family later this year, I filled out my online ESTA and I do feel that I have answered all questions honestly when I ticked no on the criminal record question.

However I can't get the fear of being turned away at immigration out of my head, has anyone else had a similair experience to me and been turned away or let through?

Thanks in advance

2. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 544 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

First of all, no visa, visa waiver or evisa (e.g. ESTA) guarantees you entry to any country. The only people who have a right to enter a country are citizens of that country. Anyone else can be pulled aside for more questions and/or denied entry and deported. That's how it works.

>has anyone else had a similair experience to me and been turned away or let through?

The experience of others is no guarantee that you will have the same experience. Everything depends on the individual, the exact circumstances and the officer/officers who deal with the individual on the day as well as on internal guidelines, practices and regulations which are not in the public domain.

>I can't get the fear of being turned away at immigration out of my head,

Thousands..possibly hundreds of thousands... of UK citizens have lied on their ESTAs (potentially a US criminal offence) and successfully entered the US (that does not mean I personally agree with doing so). There are no available figures for those refused entry.

The present ESTA question asks 'Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?' From what you say it seems that your offence may not fall within that category and may not be a crime of moral turpitude (a definition which can anyway vary according to exact circumstances) though I'd stress that firm definitions of e.g. 'serious' do not exist. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

You've got your ESTA so, unless you decide to go for a visa, you'll just have to live with the worry of being pulled aside and/or refused entry. Assuming that everything else is ok I personally think the chances of that happening are very tiny indeed, though they do exist for everyone who is not a US citizen. But no-one here or anywhere else can tell you for certain. It is as it is.

[ Edit: Edited on 24-Jan-2019, at 01:47 by leics2 ]

3. Posted by JamieEighty (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the advice, everyone else I'm traveling with has been to Florida on multiple occasions so they will all be fine.

4. Posted by Poppy771213 (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I also have been trying to look through the internet about travelling to the usa with a criminal conviction. Common assault and criminal damage going back to 1993/1998 and shoplifting 15 years ago and not declaring work 11 years ago (stupidity i know) would yes or no be ticked on the esta does these crimes fall under moral turptitude or will a visa be needed. Dont like the chances of being stopped at immigration

5. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 544 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

The ESTA question asks: Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?

How long ago the offences took place is irrelevant to the ESTA. The US does not recognise spent convictions from another jurisdiction.

> does these crimes fall under moral turptitude

There is no absolute definition of 'serious' or 'moral turpitude'. Not declaring work is fraud/making false representation, a CIMT (crime involving moral turpitude) and could be considered to cause serious harm to a government authority. Common assault and shoplifting (theft) are also considered CIMTs.

>will a visa be needed

You can lie on the ESTA if you wish. Thousands have done. Lying on the ESTA can be considered a US criminal offence and will, obviously, cause problems if you want or need a US visa in future.

You say you don't like the chances (you mean the worry, I think?) of being stopped at immigration. No visa, visa waiver or evisa absolutely guarantees entry into any country... anyone can be pulled aside for further questioning and/or refused entry... but if you want to minimise that worry you should apply for a visa.

Assuming everything else is ok it's likely that the officer at your visa interview will recommend you for a 'waiver of ineligibility' which, if granted, will result in a visa. Waiver processing times via London are 6-8 months (Belfast is slightly less) and it's probable that the US government shutdown is slowing down processing even more.

Only you can decide whether to risk an ESTA or go down the visa route. No-one here or anywhere else can tell you for certain what will happen in either case: it depends on the exact circumstances and the decision made by the officer/s on the day.

[ Edit: Edited on 24-Jan-2019, at 03:16 by leics2 ]

6. Posted by kuvasheff (First Time Poster 1 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

Hi there I got my Canadian Eta a couple of years ago so we could visit my wife’s cousin in Toronto for which I declared my criminal record which includes theft and possession of cannabis, so when they asked us if we wanted to visit a second time and take a road trip to the U.S and New York so I have applied for an Esta which was refused as expected and then to ACRO again and it has come back as no live trace.
Now because my convictions are over 20 years old what can I expect If I go to to the U.S embassy and what realistically are my chances of gaining a visa thanks in advance

7. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 544 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

> what can I expect If I go to to the U.S embassy

You can expect to be interviewed. What questions are asked, how many questions and what level of detail the questions go into depends on all your personal circumstances, how you present yourself, on the officer who interviews you on the day and whatever guidelines and rules are in force at the time of your interview.


>what realistically are my chances of gaining a visa

No-one here or anywhere else can give you a firm answer. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and none of us has all the relevant detail. We can only give opinions.

Personally I think it's unlikely you'll be granted a visa on the day because one of your offences involves drugs and the other is a crime of moral turpitude. Based on the information you give in your post I see no reason at all for you to be flatly refused a visa. Hopefully, and assuming everything else is ok, the interviewing officer will recommend you for a 'waiver of ineligibility'. If that waiver is granted you'll get a visa. Unfortunately it takes 6-8 months for waivers to be processed via the London embassy (Belfast is a bit quicker) and the present US shutdown is almost certainly slowing things up even more.

I think you have a good chance of being recommended for a waiver and of that waiver being granted. Unfortunately, it is a lengthy process so you may be looking at a 2020 road trip rather than a 2019 one. The sooner you apply for a visa the better.