Travel to US with criminal record

Travel Forums Introductions Travel to US with criminal record

1. Posted by Westbourne (Budding Member 3 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Hi
My family are visiting Florida to see my step sons grandfather in April. I have a criminal conviction for a drug offence for which I served a prison sentence.
This was 21 years ago. I have since kicked my addiction and am a law abiding sensible citizen. I run my own business, keep to the law and support my family.
Am I likely to able to obtain a visa for the US or will a waiver application definitely be required? The problem with the waiver is the length of time it takes to process.
I DO NOT want to lie or try to cheat the legal entry process.
Any help or advice would be much appreciated.

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1477 posts) 8w 1 Star this if you like it!

I believe you would need the waiver application.

Others more expert than me are likely to comment but that's the quick version. Perhaps the interviewing officers have latitude but as far as I know it needs a waiver because the US don't recognise any offences as expunged due to the passage of time.

3. Posted by Westbourne (Budding Member 3 posts) 8w 1 Star this if you like it!

This is what I thought AndyF
The problem for me now is a lack of time.
Thanks for the swift reply

4. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 645 posts) 8w 1 Star this if you like it!

Andy is right.

>Am I likely to able to obtain a visa for the US or will a waiver application definitely be required?

You have a drug conviction which resulted in a prison sentence (how long ago isn't really relevant). I'm afraid I think it is very unlikely that an officer will grant a visa at interview. From the information you give I think the chances of the officer recommending you for a waiver of ineligibility are good but, as you say, it takes 6-8 months to process a waiver via London and there is no way of expediting the process.

You certainly won't be able to visit the US in April unless you lie on the ESTA.

>I DO NOT want to lie or try to cheat the legal entry process.

I agree with...and applaud.... your attitude, though I'm afraid others would encourage you to lie on the ESTA and take your chances.

Those who are tempted to lie on the ESTA should be aware 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.

I wish you the best of luck with your visa application.

[ Edit: Edited on 18-Feb-2019, at 05:15 by leics2 ]

5. Posted by Westbourne (Budding Member 3 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Thanks leic2
It's as I thought. This confirms that I'm probably wasting my time spending the money on the visa application at this point as I'll not get the waiver through in time.
Cheers for your advice

6. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 774 posts) 8w 1 Star this if you like it!

Quoting Westbourne

It's as I thought. This confirms that I'm probably wasting my time spending the money on the visa application at this point as I'll not get the waiver through in time.

Although you may not be able to make the journey this time, it may be wise to do it if the visa 'waiver' has a few years window for travel.
By starting the process now it could save you trying to rush it through next year (without it there's no chance of a last minute long weekend in NYC when it comes up at a silly cheap price).