Travelling to New York with a criminal record

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1. Posted by Mbell95 (Budding Member 2 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Hi wonder if anyone can help me I’m planning a trip to New York in the next year or so and was planning on surprising my boyfriend with the trip
The only thing I’m worried about is that he has spent some time in prison for driving offences (no insurance )
Has also had fines etc for DUI
Would I be taking a massive risk just going and hoping for the best ? Or do I need to speak with someone and declare this
Any advice appreciated 😁

2. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1290 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Afraid you will need to deal with this. You don't say where you are from, but that won't make much difference. I suspect making this a surprise is not going to happen. You don't want to force him to lie going through Immigration and you certainly don't want him turned around and sent home while you continue on your way. Just tell him about the surprise and then take care of the visa issue.

You'll get some excellent advice from leics2 a bit later. We're in different time zones but she's great with visa questions.

3. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1030 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Thank you Beausoleil. :-)

Mbell95: I'm guessing you are from the UK?

>Would I be taking a massive risk just going and hoping for the best ? Or do I need to speak with someone and declare this

First of all, neither of you can 'just go' to the US and you can't 'speak to someone and declare' anything about your boyfriend. In order to visit the US both you and your boyfriend need an ESTA or a US visa.

You can apply for the ESTA online (official site below) but you should not complete an ESTA for your boyfriend.

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

The ESTA application asks many questions including:

>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?

The fact that your boyfriend was not only convicted but actually imprisoned for driving without insurance etc underlines the seriousness of his offences, which, (assuming he harmed neither person nor property) could be considered to harm government authority. Imprisonment is not the normal sentence for just driving without insurance and these were certainly not minor traffic offences. As he has been imprisoned imo he cannot answer 'No' to this question.

If he chooses, your boyfriend can lie on the ESTA (which is potentially a criminal offence in the US). The chance of his being pulled aside for further questioning and his criminal record being discovered are slim but are not non-existent. If he decides to do this then he should know that:

a) Lying on the ESTA is potentially a US criminal offence.

b) Lying on the ESTA will cause major issues if ever a US visa is wanted or required (e.g. for work or living purposes)

c) There is no guarantee that the US will allow ESTA forever. It could revert to visa-only entry at any time and, again, having previously lied on an ESTA will cause problems.

d) No-one knows for certain what information (e.g. criminal records) is shared between the UK and the US and...more importantly..it is pretty certain that more and more information will be shared in future.

To avoid the above potentials (and to remove the inevitable worry which both you and he will feel) he should apply for a visa via the US Embassy in London (or the US Consulate in Belfast if that's easier). As he has been imprisoned for his crimes it is unlikely..though not impossible... that the interviewing officer will grant or refuse a visa on the day. The officer can recommend an application for a 'waiver of ineligibility' which, if granted, will provide your boyfriend with a visa. If the officer makes a recommendation the chances of it being granted are good (though not 100% certain). Unfortunately, processing waivers via London is taking 6-8 months at the moment. Belfast is a bit quicker.

Only your boyfriend can make the decision whether to apply for an ESTA or a visa and only your boyfriend can make an application for either. You cannot make the decision or the application for him because of the potential consequences.

So I think you must abandon the idea of a 'surprise' trip to NYC unless you are happy to let the surprise be in the fact that you want to book and pay for it.

If you want to create a real surprise trip I suggest you change your plans and choose one of the many countries which allow visa-free (or visa on arrival) entry for UK citizens e.g. any of the EU countries, Switzerland, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mexico..........

[ Edit: Edited on 18-Feb-2019, at 01:02 by leics2 ]

4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1796 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

This:

Quoting leics2

If you want to create a real surprise trip I suggest you change your plans and choose one of the many countries which allow visa-free (or visa on arrival) entry for UK citizens e.g. any of the EU countries, Switzerland, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mexico..........

There's an amazing world out there. Cancun and surrounds make a great alternative to a Florida holiday. Swap New York for Hong Kong with even more wow factor. Venice is a brilliant citybreak, as are Rome, Istanbul, Budapest, Kiev. The US Rockies are outclassed by Scotland and Norway. Or an adventure break to Iceland is fantastic.

People see a lot of the USA on television so perhaps it puts it in the forefront of your mind - most of the world-class sights are elsewhere, often a lot closer to home.

5. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1290 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Highest mountain in Scotland is 4411 feet (1345 meters); Norway is a little more exciting at 8100 feet (2469 meters) for the highest mountain. However, the highest of the Rocky Mountains in the USA is 14,440 feet (4401 meters) and if you go west to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the USA, the highest peak is 14,505 feet (4,421 meters). In Alaska which is a bit of a trip, Denali (Mt. McKinley) is 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) which is pretty spectacular compared to Scotland and Norway.

If you are looking at cities, I would agree that most European cities are more interesting simply because they have more history attached.

If you truly want a surprise, a European holiday might be the solution, at least the easy solution.

6. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1796 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

Norway is a little more exciting at 8100 feet

Here's where we differ. The height doesn't make it exciting.

And my post wasn't intended to engage the competitive (or defensive) spirit of the Americans, I was just trying to suggest alternatives to these people giving themselves grief with the US immigration system.

7. Posted by Mbell95 (Budding Member 2 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Thanks so much for the advice
We stay in Scotland at the moment so I see plenty of scenery lol
I have already been to Florida before I met him twice so I wanted to go somewhere different in the US but have considered Iceland , Barcelona we go to turkey every year so that’s another reason why I wanted to go somewhere different
Didn’t realise it was so much hassle haha

Thanks again 😁😁

Post 8 was removed by a moderator