Travelling to America with a conviction over 32 years ago

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Travelling to America with a conviction over 32 years ago

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Last Post This thread is marked as being about Miami
1. Posted by Hg65 (Budding Member 6 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Hello everybody new to this site hope you can help me very worried. Myself and partner have booked a cruise from miami next jan and we have been told we need a visa but my partner had a conviction for burglary for which he spent 6 months in an open prison , something which he is very embarrassed about now, can anyone tell me ,put me out of my misery what are his chances of getting a visa I have read some of the posts but still very confused thanks for any guidance

2. Posted by BeateR (Budding Member 111 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

What country is your and your partners citizenship?

3. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 904 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

You haven't told us your citizenship, which is essential bit of info whenever it comes to questions about visas etc.

I'm going to assume that you are both UK citizens.

UK citizens (and quite a few other citizenships) can enter the US using the ESTA visa waiver unless they cannot answer the questions correctly. Here's the official ESTA site:

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

If you have an acceptable citizenship and can answer the questions ok you should be able to get an ESTA.......but your husbands conviction means he cannot get an ESTA unless he lies (potentially a criminal offence in the US and also something which will cause major problems if he ever needs a US visa in future). The relevant 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?

The fact that your husband received a 6-month sentence means that his crime was considered 'serious' at the time and will be considered 'serious' now. How long ago a conviction occurred and whether the sentence was in an open prison or not makes no difference. The US does not recognise 'spent' convictions from other jurisdictions, so your husband's truthful answer must be 'Yes' and an ESTA will not be granted.

If he does not lie on the ESTA your husband will need to apply for a US visa. He will need to make an appointment, gather some paperwork and attend an interview either at the London Embassy or the Belfast Consulate. Details here:

https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/tourism-visitor/how-to-apply/

Your husband's crime involved moral turpitude (a US legal concept) and also involved quite a lengthy prison sentence, so it is very unlikely that he will be granted a visa on the day of interview. If the interviewing officer feels that your husband is suitable he/she will recommend him for a 'waiver of ineligibility'. At the moment processing waivers takes 6-8 months via London, a bit less via Belfast.

>what are his chances of getting a visa

I think his chances of getting a visa on the day are very slim indeed. No-one here or anywhere else can tell you for certain what his chances of being recommended for a waiver are but, imo, if everything else is ok (all his past & present circumstances plus how he performs during the interview) I think his chances of getting that recommendation are pretty high. And I also think, if everything else is ok, that his chances of the waiver being granted are also pretty high.

You are very short of time for a waiver to be processed (6-8 months, as I said) so your husband does needs to apply immediately. I'd also recommend him to apply via Belfast if it's possible (he can make a daytrip for the interview) simply because their waiver processing time is a bit shorter.

[ Edit: Edited on 13-Jul-2019, at 18:44 by leics2 ]

4. Posted by Hg65 (Budding Member 6 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Thank you so much for that information we are UK citizens sorry , have to say I am more than a little worried now neither of us deals well with paperwork and it all sounds a little daunting just thinking may just cancel the holiday and lose the deposit don't think I could cope with the stress .
I appreciate the reply to my question

5. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 904 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

>may just cancel the holiday and lose the deposit don't think I could cope with the stress .

I think the chances of your husband being granted a waiver are very good. It would be a great shame to cancel the trip entirely and lose your deposit. Perhaps you can contact the company and see if you can change the dates so you have more time to get things sorted out?

>it all sounds a little daunting

It really isn't daunting. Thousands of UK citizens apply for US visas every year and it's a much more straightforward process than you seem to think. Having to go to London or Belfast for an interview is of course a hassle, especially if you live a long way away, but the interview itself isn't a 'grilling'. All the officer really wants to know is that your husband has been a responsible and law-abiding citizen for the past 32 years, that he poses no threat to the US and that he has every intention of returning to the UK.

So I really don't think there is any 'stress' involved, other than time pressure relating to waiver processing if you stick with the January cruise. Applying via Belfast will reduce that time pressure (their website estimates that processing will take 3-4 months at the moment).

I'm sorry about all this but each country does have the right to set its own rules about who can enter and the processs applicants must follow. The US is strict about criminal convictions for drugs or 'serious' crimes (i.e. those involving moral turpitude) and a waiver is almost always required, regardless of how long ago the conviction took place. If an officer recommends a waiver (as I'm sure will happen in your husband's case if everything else is ok) it does mean he/she is pretty sure it will be granted.

6. Posted by Hg65 (Budding Member 6 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Hello thank you once again for all the information, knowing my partner as I do now I feel fully confident he would pass the interview he is a hard working family man , who deeply regrets his actions as a youth unfortunately this incident has come back to bite him , we never realised about needing a visa we are not seasoned travellers , in fact this is our first holiday in a few years , it is costing us a lot of money which is my biggest concern we have to pay for it at the end of october and obviously we won t get the visa sorted before that, I might try like you suggest to see if we can move our holiday to another date I fully understand the requirements of America or any other countries having to do all these checks nowadays with all the happenings in society it is truly needed anyway thank you again for all your help and patience with me I will let you know what we decide to do

7. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 904 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

You are more than welcome and I'd be very pleased to know how things go on.

I think contacting the company re dates is a good first step and I hope you are able to change them.

Visa checks etc for criminal convictions are new and aren't related to the 'happenings in society' nowadays. Such checks & requirements have existed for decades. What has changed is the number of people who can travel and widespread use of the internet. So countries (e.g. US, Canada, Turkey) which offer electronic visa waivers for some citizenships automatically exclude anyone with criminal convictions (other than minor infractions such as speeding tickets) to ensure that person has a visa interview and is properly checked out by border officers before a visa is issued.

I have no doubt thousands of people with convictions lie on their US ESTAs and have no issues when entering the US. Doing that is not something I would ever advise, although I am aware not everyone agrees with me. Lying on the ESTA is deliberate fraud and is, as I said, potentially a US criminal offence. A decision to lie on ESTA application should only ever be made by the person applying and in the full knowledge of potential consequences.

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Jul-2019, at 11:06 by leics2 ]

8. Posted by Hg65 (Budding Member 6 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Hello again i have just told my partner about our conversation , he asks once he's gone through the process of the interview etc and possibly gets the waiver, will that waiver be then transferable for future holidays , I know it may seem a stupid question but like I said we are not seasoned travellers

9. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 904 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

>he asks once he's gone through the process of the interview etc and possibly gets the waiver,

Frankly, if your husband's last conviction was 32 years ago and he's been a law-abiding and responsible citizen ever since I'd be amazed if he was not recommended for a waiver and that waiver, once processed, wasn't granted!

>will that waiver be then transferable for future holidays ,

That's not a stupid question at all! :-)

The waiver will last for as long as his visa. He'll get the visa once the waiver is processed and approved. Usually US visas are valid for 10 years but it's up to the border officers to decide exactly how long any individual visa will be valid. None of us are privy to the internal guidelines and regulations under which the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) works but I'd expect your husband to be granted a visa which has a decent length of validity (i.e. years rather than months).

[ Edit: Edited on 14-Jul-2019, at 15:45 by leics2 ]

10. Posted by Hg65 (Budding Member 6 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

Oh thank you once again we are waiting for our passports to be returned we have just renewed them so then we can start the process of the visas, I think we are slowly coming to terms that we may not be able to go in January , but we want to do everything by the book so there will be no stress when we travel the temptation to lie is not an option couldn't take the risk may have the chance to take our grandchildren to disneyland in the future and would hate to think that chance could be taken away once again thank you bet you think you've got a right one here