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Last Post This thread is marked as being about USA
1. Posted by Jacob Smith (Budding Member 5 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Hello I'm seeking some advice ahead of planning a short us 4 night break.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Apr-2019, at 08:52 by Jacob Smith ]

2. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 687 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I'm not sure what advice you're seeking?

Assuming you have an ESTA-eligible citizenship you definitely need an ESTA.......unless you've got a criminal record, when you'll need a visa.

If you have got a criminal record you can lie on the ESTA if you wish but a) lying on the ESTA can be a US criminal offence b) lying on an ESTA will greatly reduce your chances of getting a visa if you ever want to live or work in the US and c) lying on the ESTA will greatly reduce your chances of getting a visa if the US decides to withdraw the ESTA visa waiver, which it can do at any time for all or any ESTA-eligible citizenships.

Here's the official ESTA application site, which is the one you should use:

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

ESTAs last for 2 years but don't leave your application until the last minute. Approval isn't immediate or necessarily quick: I suspect it varies according to demand. I suggest you apply at least a week before you travel or, perhaps better, as soon as you have sorted your plans.

The US is a very big country so if you're asking for other advice about your short trip we'll need an idea of where you want to go and/or what you want to do/see, which country you're leaving from and a rough idea of your budget.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Apr-2019, at 09:13 by leics2 ]

3. Posted by Jacob Smith (Budding Member 5 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I have a criminal record for theft, no castdodal sentence was handed out.
Do I still need to declare this on a esta? Or can I answer no to the question? Many thanks

4. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 687 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Whether you received a prison sentence or not is irrelevant. What matters is that you were possibly arrested and certainly charged with and convicted of theft.

The relevant ESTA question is:

>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?

Theft is a crime involving moral turpitude and can thus be considered 'serious'. You cannot truthfully tick 'No' to that question.

>Or can I answer no to the question?

You can answer 'No' if you wish, knowing it to be untruthful. Whether you choose to do so or not can only be your decision but, as well as the potential consequences I noted above, you should be aware that US border officers choose people for secondary questioning at random as well as those who are specifically targeted because e.g. they look nervous, their passports are flagged, they are arriving from countries of interest etc.

The chances of you being taken aside for secondary questioning are very slim but they do exist. If you decide to tick 'No' on the ESTA you should think about how to proceed in the unlikely, but not impossible, event of you being questioned in more detail.

The official US 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/

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Apr-2019, at 10:02 by leics2 ]

5. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 815 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

There's also the potential long term problem that some time in the future the UK may give American border authorities full access to the UK Criminal database.
Whilst that may not happen, and if it does then they may not compare historic data, if they do compare historic data then they'll see someone that clearly had a conviction and lied on an esta, which would prevent that person using esta again and probably mean they couldn't get a visa either.
All this is supposition but is a possibility for the future.

6. Posted by Jacob Smith (Budding Member 5 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Thank you for your reply to my inquiry, I appreciate all advise given.
I thought I had read somewhere that if I'm sentence was less than 12mths then it wouldn't be cased as moral turpitude meaning I wouldn't have to decline it and would be free to answer no to the question.
I wasn't given a prison sentence only a fine and a community order.
If I'm wrong in my trail of thoughts then I would be extremely grateful for it to be clarified and what I should do in order to book my visit to the states, I'm wanting to plan a surprise trip for my wife for her 40th birthday next year and just feel that my foolish mistake has hampered this. Many thanks for your time and help.

7. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 815 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Theft is very definately a 'CIMT'.

8. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1207 posts) 4w 1 Star this if you like it!

I have no idea what any of this means. I assume CIMT is an acronym for Crime I Must Try.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Apr-2019, at 12:21 by Piecar ]

9. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 687 posts) 4w 1 Star this if you like it!

>I had read somewhere that if I'm sentence was less than 12mths then it wouldn't be cased as moral turpitude meaning I wouldn't have to decline it and would be free to answer no to the question.

I have no idea where you read that but I can assure you that it is 100% incorrect. Logic should tell you that the US is not going to determine whether a crime is CIMT or not simply by sentence length, if only because charges and sentences vary hugely between jurisdictions.

The sentence is irrelevant. When you committed the crime is irrelevant. The exact circumstances are irrelevant.

You were convicted of a CIMT (Piecar: CIMT = crime involving moral turpitude). There is no information in the public domain as to the definition of 'serious' in the ESTA question (nor any exact, official definition of CIMT because the names of crimes vary according to jurisdiction) but being convicted of and sentenced for a CIMT (even if it's not a prison sentence) makes you inadmissible to the US. The only way to get around that is to apply for a visa, which will be granted if you are recommended for a waiver of ineligibility (from the details you've given such a recommendation is likely) and that waiver, once processed, is also granted.

But really it's really very simple indeed:

> Our advice is that if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted you apply for a visa. <

(same US Embassy link as above).

Whether we agree or disagree, it is as it is.

Many people choose to lie on their ESTA. Whether you do so, or whether you choose to go down the visa route (which I would very strongly advise if you think you might ever want to work or live in the US, or if you see yourself visiting many times over the coming years) is entirely up to you.

I suggest you read this page from the Hub, run by a charity which aims to provide information to those with criminal convictions on a wide range of issues:

http://hub.unlock.org.uk/information/travelling-to-the-us/

and have a look at their guide to CIMT:

http://hub.unlock.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Annex-A-Crimes-involving-moral-turpitude.pdf

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Apr-2019, at 12:39 by leics2 ]

10. Posted by Jacob Smith (Budding Member 5 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Thank you, you have been extremely helpful. I will look into what I need to do in order to apply for a visa and hope the process is simple. I hope that such a foolish mistake does mean that I will not very be allowed to enter the US. Many thanks