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Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

Travel Forums North America Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

1051. Posted by Intrigued (Budding Member 4 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I can also confirm that you do not fill out any card on the plane when flying to the U.S.

1052. Posted by triptaker (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi Andy/travelman99,
I have read your very informative posts and am in similar situation as you.
• UK citizen
• Simple caution for class A possession (cocaine)
• Given 5.5 years ago
• No other blemishes

My MD/owner of business I work for wants to send me to the states next month for a week. Started looking into US travel last week. I have been a mess.

I’d like to do it the proper way like yourself and not lie on my ESTA in case an opportunity comes up in future to work in US plus i would like to go on holiday etc without fear of being pulled up.

Did you ever apply for your Visa at the embassy?

Assuming I will get denied as per your post in #1004.

If I go to the Embassy with relevant paperwork (DC160 PCN cert etc) for the visa interview, is it at that point that I need to complete the relevant waiver paperwork or can I fill it in and take it to the embassy?

Many thanks.


1053. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 209 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi Lewis

I feel your pain, it sucks that a 'crime' that harms no one can all but bar one from several countries - what's the difference between having a line or going out and sinking 10 shots or smoking 20 fags.. Anyway, enough moralising...

To answer your question I haven't been yet, you are in the fortunate position that nearly 6 years have passed, where as mine is just over 2 years, therefore, I am waiting as long as I can before I have to apply.

It's only bad news I'm afraid so I won't sugar coat it - you can't apply for a waiver yourself, this is proposed during your interview by the immigration officer. This will Then take 6 months to complete - and remember, there is no certainty that they will clear you. The US will allow those who have beaten someone up, beaten their wife or have been caught with 29grams of weed on them, but even a whiff of a class A and you're banned. Obama seems to be making the right noises around this (he snorted Coke in his teens after all) but who knows if he'll pass anything.

How old were you when it happened, do you have a good salary and earnings, do you have a mortgage? These will all help you in your interview.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, if you're going next month you don't stand a chance - I did hear that they can expedite your application in some circumstances, but you'd have to check this out.

Look - the fact is you won't get caught, then chances that you get pulled up are slim to none. You won't flag on their system, if you're white British you're likely to sail through (I hate to say that but in an age of paranoia it's the truth). However, if you were asked to move their and work, your chances are slim to none of getting this granted as you lied on a federal document.

It's your call if you tell your boss, it's not the crime of the century and you're protected in the UK as its only a caution and you legally can't be fired because of it.

What are your thoughts, and feel free to contact me either by private message or publically.

[ Edit: Edited on 20-Sep-2015, at 14:48 by travelman99 ]

1054. Posted by triptaker (Budding Member 11 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Hi Andy,
Thanks for the reply.

I agree with your morality stance - utter nonsense. The drug itself is no different to alcohol/tobacco but the industry behind a class A are usually much more sinister than marijuana: Mexican cartels etc. Thats how the officer explained it to me anyway! The war on drugs has been a failure in UK/US and our situation proves that.

The most frustrating thing for me is reading of people in 2009 with a caution for the exact same offence being given a visa at their first appt. Now a caution has stepped up the US ladder of seriousness that has stopped. Nonsense.

Well trawling through a load of US "statutes" I did read that for a non-immigrant visa, possession of class A was not a CIMP and was hopeful that i would either get a visa or the waiver for inadmissability was a cert.

9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-4 Intentional Distribution of Controlled
(CT:VISA-2166; 08-22-2014)
The Board of Immigration Appeals has determined that a conviction for the
intentional distribution of a controlled substance or a conviction for drug trafficking
is a crime involving moral turpitude. A typical drug statute that would constitute
a crime involving moral turpitude is “possession with intent to distribute.” In order
to be a crime involving moral turpitude, a conviction is required, unlike an
ineligibility under INA 212(a)(2)(C)(1) based only on “reason to believe.” The
mere possession or use of a controlled substance is not a crime involving moral

The above is probably kind of related, but isn't - possibly immigrant visa as opposed to non-immigrant. Have you deeply delved into this yourself?

I was 27, so now 33. Good job/wage/professional career (i can sign off passport photos - but can't travel to the US???), no wife/kids or mortgage though.

I was just going to bite the bullet, apply for visa on assumption i would get the visa at the US embassy at first interview but doesn't seem that will now be the case due to the step up of the caution in US eyes.

I have a good 20+ years of working life left so could potentially go to states for work/business more regularly and I always seem to get stopped/searched at customs (must look nervous) so that steers me away from lying on the ESTA.

The fact that it is discretionary is a worry. Is this the driver for it maybe:

here is a list of abailable waivers of inadmissability.
non immigrant visa - is for a visitor to US only. an immigrant would be to go and live in the states. the link above states that a non-immigrant visa waiver is available:
Controlled Substance Violators (INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II)); (9 FAM 40.21(b))
INA 212(d)(3)(A) waiver is available. Factors to consider in deciding whether to recommend the waiver include the nature and date of the offense, possible rehabilitation of the alien’s character, and the necessity for, or urgency of, the alien’s proposed trip to the United States.

Thanks again for reply, interested to hear more of your thoughts.


1055. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 209 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!


Yeah its crazy - seems as Cameron was on it for a bit as well!

The caution hasn't been stepped up, the US still doesn't regard it as a conviction, but instead could be potentially seen as an admittance of guilt, therefore every application that includes a caution is dealt with on a case by case basis. Therefore, it could go either way.

Possession isn't a CIMT, and I used that as a little glimmer of hope when I first started researching it, but controlled substances are a different category it seems and still renders one inadmissible.

The fact is I've heard of plenty of people getting straight up visas with drug cautions, but mostly online, I've also had a friend with a serious GBH conviction sail through immigration with no problem at all. I think cautions are grey areas, effectively it's an arrest with no further action and a warning to boot, so I guess it's how you present that on the day.

Unfortunately not many people come back and tell us what they did - the only ones that do generally forget applying for a visa and just lie on their ESTA and ail through. If you visit the British Expats forum, they are very much inclined to suggest that people do it the right way, but that forum is also full of self righteous arse holes.

If you did get that stopped at customs it's unlikely they would do an Interpol check on you if you have a valid reason to visit, they'd probably just search your bags - I've seen enough 'Border Patrol' to know that 😀

What are your thoughts?

1056. Posted by florida2016 (Budding Member 2 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Want to travel to florida in 2016 with the family, in 2011 was handed some money over the counter had no pens to detect if it was fake money.
found out it was only £40.00. Got in trouble with it, gave the police all the info I knew then they turned on me and charged me with knowing or suspiciously knowing the money was fake.
had to do 200 community hours.
Can I apply for a Esta still?

1057. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 209 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Legally, no you can't - falls under fraud, therefore a CIMT.

However, it's your choice how you fill that form out.

1058. Posted by PinkTrousers (Budding Member 9 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I'm sorry... but I really wouldn't risk it.

1059. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Quoting PinkTrousers

I'm sorry... but I really wouldn't risk it.

Why do you say that?


1060. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 209 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

All hail the return of Terry :) I thought you'd given up, I've been holding fort for you!!