HELP! Awaiting rt date and travelling to USA later this year

Travel Forums North America HELP! Awaiting rt date and travelling to USA later this year

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1. Posted by Daisy2019 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I didn't scan all my shopping (self scan) as I was on medication and a member of my family was in intensive care. It was preoccuping my mind and I paid at the till then accosted by a store detective.

To say I'm embarrassed and devastated is an understatement. 1st and only offence (I'm in my 50s) and NEVER intend on doing it and going through this again. I'm deeply ashamed and awaiting a court date.

I'm visiting USA later this year and its occurred to me recently I wont be allowed in which has torn my heart open as I have family there who are too I'll to travel to the UK.

I don't know what to do and only my spouse knows :(

2. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 645 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I'm sorry to hear about this and I really do understand how you feel.

I assume you have been charged with theft, which is a CIMT (crime involving moral turpitude)? And I assume you intend to plead guilty in court?

I can give you the facts but I'm afraid only you can make the decision. I'm going to assume you don't already have a valid ESTA.

The relevant ESTA (visa waiver) 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?'

There is no firm definition of 'serious' in the public domain. The US Embassy's advice is:

>We do not recommend that travelers who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, have a criminal record,........attempt to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.<

https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/additional-requirements/

So you have two choices:

1. Tick 'No' to the ESTA question above and get an ESTA. The chances of you being stopped on entry are very small, although they do exist. I have no doubt that hundreds of people with far more serious criminal records than you lie on their ESTAs with no problems but.....

.....lying on an ESTA is potentially a US criminal offence and will cause major problems if the person ever wants a visa to live or work in the US or if the US withdraws or tightens-up its ESTA programme.

2. Apply for a visa. That means attending an interview at either the London Embassy or the Belfast Consulate.

No-one here or anywhere else can tell you for certain whether you will be granted a visa on the day, whether the interviewing officer will recommend you for a 'waiver of ineligibility' or he/she will refuse a visa altogether. The officer will make his/her decision based on all your personal details and circumstances as well as how you present yourself at interview (not just clothes).

If you are recommended for a waiver of ineligibility I'm afraid the process via London is taking 6-8 months at the moment (Belfast is a bit quicker). Being recommended means the interviewing officer feels you have a good chance of the waiver being granted (and thus get a visa) but there is no way to speed the process up.

The US Embassy webiste tells you how to apply for a visa:

https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/tourism-visitor/

but only you can decide what to do.

[ Edit: Edited on 24-Mar-2019, at 15:25 by leics2 ]

3. Posted by Daisy2019 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I wasnt arrested

4. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 645 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

> I wasn't arrested

Maybe not but that's a technicality. Assuming you are in the UK, you must have been cautioned and charged in order for your case to be taken to court. The quote says: 'even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction. Being cautioned and charged is thus more serious than just an arrest.

Given what you have said in your first post I assume you'll plead guilty and will thus you will be convicted.

If you're happy to tick 'No' on the ESTA then do so.

If you're not happy to do that, go down the visa route. You certainly won't be permanently barred from visiting the US for such a minor crime.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2019, at 03:47 by leics2 ]

5. Posted by Daisy2019 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

Thank you. The problem is I need to get flights sorted now.
Do I apply for ESTA now?

6. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 645 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

It's up to the individual exactly when to apply for an ESTA though it makes sense not to leave it too late. It took just over 24 hours for my last ESTA approval email to arrive whereas my previous ones have been immediate or within a few hours. How long it takes depends how busy they are and how well the website & ESTA process are functioning.

An ESTA lasts for 2 years from the date it's granted so there's no harm in getting one sooner rather than later.

Use the official site because other sites will charge you extra:

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

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2019, at 09:26 by leics2 ]

7. Posted by Daisy2019 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

Thank you . I appreciate all the help you have given me.

Just a quick question...obviously I haven't received my punishment yet so would it be ok to apply for ESTA now? What do I need to do once I have been served my punishment? Would I need a Visa on top of this as obviously it will be too late for us to travel then due to the length of time it takes?
Sorry to sound dumb but I'm paranoid and never been in trouble before

8. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 645 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

>would it be ok to apply for ESTA now?

You know you have been charged with a CIMT and you know you will be convicted of it. Knowing that, whether you decide to apply for an ESTA or not can only be your decision. If you were to phone the Embassy for advice I think you'd be told to apply for a visa.

>What do I need to do once I have been served my punishment? Would I need a Visa on top of this...

You will have a criminal record and will thus need a visa, though whether you will need a waiver of ineligibility depends on all the details of your crime and your circumstances, plus how you present at interview. The officer who deals with you on the day will make that decision within the relevant laws, regulations and guidelines (not all of which are in the public domain). No-one here or anywhere else can tell you with certainty what will happen in your case.

A caveat:

If you apply for a visa having applied for an ESTA when you knew about your charge and your intention to plead guilty you may ....may....run into problems. The officer will know the date of the ESTA application, will know about your conviction and will also know that you ticked 'No' to the question about crime. He/she may want you to explain why you ticked 'No' when you knew you'd already been charged with a CIMT and were just awaiting a court date.

I'm sorry I can't give you a simple answer but I'm afraid it's just not possible to do so. It really is a decision only you can make.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2019, at 10:20 by leics2 ]

9. Posted by Daisy2019 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I thought the US cant access criminal records etc so how would they know?

10. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 645 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

The US can access certain criminal information from the UK and can certainly make requests for more if required. Exactly how much information is shared...and what, when, how and by whom.... is not in the public domain, for obvious reasons.

If you decide to get an ESTA the chances of you being stopped and questioned are very small (though not non-existent) but note my comment above about applying for a visa afterwards.

If you decide to go for a visa you will need to provide an ACRO document which details your criminal record.

If you were to apply for a US visa without declaring your criminal record that would be fraud and *really* not a good idea.

In the great scheme of things your crime is small but, nevertheless, it is a CIMT.

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Mar-2019, at 13:19 by leics2 ]