Esta or visa??

Travel Forums North America Esta or visa??

1. Posted by Poppy771213 (Budding Member 2 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

Hi me and my wife have both won a holiday to america (we are from the uk) we both have criminal convictions mine for criminal damage and common assault dating back to 1993 and 1998. And my wifes for shoplifting (from 15 years ago) and not declaring paid work while claiming benefits 11 years ago ( stupid YES I KNOW ) i was wondering do we tick no to the question on moral turptitude or yes..or would it be better to apply for a visa.i have looked on many forums and it seems to be all different answers. What would the chances be of being turned down for a visa with the criminal records going so far back.. we havent been in any trouble with the police since..dont want to miss out on this holiday by being stopped at immigration

2. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 970 posts) 38w Star this if you like it!

I'll repeat the answer I gave to your post on the other thread:

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.

>What would the chances be of being turned down for a visa with the criminal records going so far back

Assuming everything else is ok I think 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. BUT everything depends on the exact details of your offences, all your personal circumstances and what the officer decides on the day of interview.

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.