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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

1551. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Dear Hink,

Thanks for reporting back. Fantastic news.

Happy New Year!


1552. Posted by triptaker (Budding Member 11 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Happy new year all,

I thought I would share my story:

UK citizen
Simple caution for class A possession (cocaine) received in 2010 aged 27, just over 6 years ago.
Good stable job/wage/professional career.
No wife/kids or mortgage.
Seeking temporary non-immigrant visa to the US for work primarily ( I could be asked to go at any time with my job) but also for pleasure – so a B1/B2 visa.

I could’ve bitten the bullet and ticked “No” to all the questions on the ESTA/VWP boxes but that would prevent me ever being able to live/work in the states. No immediate plans but would never say never. Plus the UK might start sharing info with the US etc in future so I decided to “do it right”.

May 2016 -
Was completely in a spin over what to do and having mild anxiety attacks. So after some good advice in this forum (travelman99 especially –thank you for advice and support! )
I made an appointment for an hours’ time with a US Visa lawyer over the telephone after sending my details and what I wanted to discuss.

3 weeks later – had the telephone appointment. Advice from lawyer was – I should get a waiver as long as I can look the person behind the counter in the eye and matter of factly explain what happened. So that is what I did.

June 2016 –
Received ACRO form which showed full details of the caution (I thought it would say “no live trace” after 6 years – hey ho).
Submitted the DS-160 application form and applied in June 2016 for appointment in US Embassy in London.
2 month wait. Appointment in August 2016. I was expecting 2 weeks (that’s what it said on the website). So another 2 months of worry.

August 2016 –
Huge queue outside the Embassy (thankfully it was a nice sunny day) – advice is to go as early as possible, you are booked in a large trench of appointments; your appointment time is an estimate. It is on a ticket system, first at front, less waiting time when you are inside the embassy.

First person
Checks my paperwork – UK person, not US embassy official. Scared the life out of me telling me I hadn’t applied for the right visa and the US consular officer would probably refuse my application. Sat there having mild panic attack for 2 hours waiting to see US Consular officer. (I don’t think they had the authority/knowledge to be telling me that personally).

2nd person – US consular officer
As the visa lawyer told me, the female consular officer behind the glass asked me about the offence - told her matter of factly what happened. She didn’t seem bothered in the slightest – almost apologised for the US “draconian” approach to the "war on drugs"!

She would recommend me for a waiver. Fingers crossed the DHS would approve it.

December 2016 –
Email received asking me to send passport to US embassy for processing. Did not mention the outcome of the waiver frustratingly.

Week later – passport returned to DX courier along with original ACRO and DCU-1.
Where was my visa? Had I been approved? After getting annoyed, driving home and googling – I flicked through my passport. The visa was on a page inside. Doh!

I was granted a 5 year multi entry visa with the waiver. I was only expecting a year. Very happy with the 5 year multi entry.

So it took 2 months to get an appointment (I had applied for the ACRO prior) and only a 4.5 month wait for the waiver to be granted.

Next step is to try it out with a trip to the states.

Thank you to all contributors in this thread, travelman especially.

1553. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 211 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Triptaker - thanks so much for taking the time time to tell us your experiences of applying for your Visa. I'm over the moon for you that you were successful. I have done a huge amount of research in this area, and I'm really glad I was able to offer you the reasssurance and support to do the right thing.

I need to do mine this year, my caution is for ATTEMPT to possess a class A so hopefully I'll also be giving a longer visa. Although mine was under 4 years ago so I'm waiting a little longer.

All the best

1554. Posted by Nyc traveler (First Time Poster 1 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Share my experience 23 year old male I've read every single forum on this catoegry 1 year and 3 months ago I was sentenced too 60 hours community service 1 year suspended sentence and 600 quid fine the charge was GBH with intent and then they dropped it too ABH with a guilty plea. Well I booked a holiday too America. New York. Said no on the ESTA too the criminal record part got on the plane fine, shaking like a leaf about an hour before we landed in JFK got too customs and border check checked my passport and fingerprints nothing no problems the man didn't even check my ESTA only Intrested in the card I filled in on the plane. Which I have read on multiple forums, lie and they probably won't find out. And it was worth all the stress..

1555. Posted by Tim123456 (Budding Member 7 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hello all, I too want to share my story having followed this forum for well over 2 years.

Some of you may remember me asking questions on this thread and receiving advice from Hynkyd and Amenicycinema back in August, although for those who were unaware of my predicament it was as follows;

26 year old male, born and raised in the UK. At the age of 17 I was caught and cautioned for possession of Cannabis, a Class C drug at the time. In addition to that I was arrested and bailed extensively at the age of 18 for a suspected Theft and Burglary charge. Fortunately No Further Action was taken for this as the evidence was not strong enough to take me to court/charge me me but I was bailed on 5 occasions and these all individually came up on my subject access request. This worried me more.

Moving on, after constantly reading this post over the past few years, I was told by my employer in May of last year that should I be promoted (I had been working towards this promotion for 2 years) it would be necessary for me to travel to various states in the US up to 4 times a year. I did know this deep down but being told directly by your boss makes this all the more real witht he horrible cloud over my head of my conviction and arrest.

As I am sure many people who are in a similar position and have the worry of having drugs convictions on their record, or any record for that matter, the anguish I felt upon hearing this was awful. I too had mild anxiety and would often feel very depressed at the thought of what to do in order to travel to the states.

To make a long story shorter, after reading Hynkyd and Amenicycinema's (thank you both very Much) outcome and that they had been successful in applying to the embassy for a non-immigrant visa this gave me hope that doing it the right way by biting the bullet and being honest, was a more courageous idea than lying on the ESTA especially with the frequency of my planned visits to the States. So here is the timeline in a similar manner to how Triptaker did, and I am sure many of you may be surprised at the turn around and outcome;

December 4
Applied for my ACRO police certificate having had my Subject Access Request form since 2015.

December 15
ACRO police certificate arrived. Fortunately it said No Live Trace. After receiving this I thought I would put the whole thing to the back of my mind and enjoy Christmas/New Year and sort out the DS-160/Embassy appointment out in the New Year.

December 19
Promoted at work out of the blue (wasnt expecting it until March 2017 at the earliest) and told I would need to go to New York in April for my first trip with my Director. This was an horrendous and difficult pill to swallow and evidently resulted in many sleepless nights over Christmas. Very few people knew that I was dealing with this entire situation and not being able to speak to people about it was the most difficult thing. Decided to keep it to myself and see if I could do th impossible and get a visa sorted before April 2017.

December 29
Completed DS-160 form and paid interview fee. The first appointment for London was 21 January, however Belfast had an appointment at 10:30 on 5 January. The stress I had over the Christmas period made me pick Belfast as well as the advice of Hynkyd who explained that it was a much calmer place. I booked flights, and accommodation and anxiously waited for the week to pass. During this time I hadnt told work as I wanted to see the outcome and if it was bad news, cross that bridge at a later time

January 5
After spending an evening in Belfast on the 4th January I woke up very early for my appointment at the embassy. When I arrived there was a long que of many anxious people outside the consulate. I was the only one in a suit which made me feel better but I still was very nervous. Got talking to a very pessimistic bloke who had been refused a visa twice in London and was very hopeful things would be different in Belfast. I did too. My appointment was for 10:30 and I was only let into the consulate at 10:25. Walked through the security and all the way around to the consulate area where many different people were all sat, all requiring different visas and waiting for 1 interviewer. Gave my finger prints and all the documents that were required to the receptionist and then waited eagerly.

My name was called and I walked into the interview room. I had brought with me every document under the sun the could have potentially been asked for (DS-160 form, Interview Instructions, Police Certificate, Proof of Address, Proof of finances, University Degree Certificate, my new contract for work, Subject Access request form, C.V, proof of contacts in the US from work) and the interviewer asked me to confirm how old I was when I was arrested for Cannabis. I replied 17. She then frantically started typing on her screen. She looked back at me and asked me how long I had worked at my current employer. I replied nearly 5 years. She again typed frantically on the screen. She then said are you 100 percent certain the dates of each arrest and conviction I had put on my VCU1 form were correct. I replied yes! I then presented her my Subject Access Request form which confirmed that. She then took it off me and studied it for what felt like a whole minute. She then looked at me and smiled and said that she would be requesting ACRO to confirm that the arrest and conviction were correct and the dates corresponded and that if everything was correct, I would receive an email from the Consulate next week to confirm that my passport was being delivered back to my chosen courier as they would have to keep it for now but she was putting me forward for a multi entry Visa. In my excitement I had to ask her what length and was expecting 5 years but she looked at me and said it would be a 10 Year Visa!!!

Yesterday morning I collected my passport from the courier and inside was something I have dreamed about for the last 9 and a half years - a Multi Entry B1/B2 Visa.

In short, to anyone with the courage and bravery to go about it in the correct way and own up to your previous convictions/arrests, it is definitely worth it especially if significant time has passed since your last conviction. It is a horrible cliche but honesty really is the best policy unless you are visiting the USA on a one off, and for me, even if I didnt have the situation with work, after 9 and a half years of dwelling upon a silly mistake in my teens, I would prefer to do it this way and be able to visit the states indefinitely and on numeroud occasions having had to turn it down out of fear for the last near on decade.

My final piece of advice would be to most definitely travel to Belfast for the interview if you do go down the embassy road. It does cost a lot more but the truth is, there is only a fraction of the traffic there in comparison to the US Embassy. I spoke with a lady whilst waiting who had been denied a visa at the London office and that the embassy representatives had turned her away twice without even seeing her documents/hearing her out, and she wasnt even applying for a visa due to criminal record.

Thank you ever so much to Travelman99 and CheersT for heading up what I believe is the Holy Grail to dealing with previous convictions and travelling to the United States if you are a UK citizen. This forum is literally the only thing that has given me hope over the years and going forward I hope many more people come back to the forum to share there experiences and help others with theirs.



1556. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1006 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Brilliant post, Tim! Well done, thanks for letting us all know how it went and congratulations on your promotion and your visa. :)

1557. Posted by hinkyd (Budding Member 7 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

What a great start to the New Year Tim! Brilliant news.:)

1558. Posted by RosalieCancun (First Time Poster 1 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

i Think this is not a good idea to go in this condition, it s too risky

1559. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 211 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi Tim

Great work and thanks for letting us know, its positive to see such a great outcome.

I should note that because your conviction was before you were 18, and that it was for cannabis only (under 30g) that this doesn't make you inadmissible and you'll usually get a visa on the day.

For those with drug convictions for class B/A you're more likely to have to wait for secondary vetting and a 3 - 8 month wait with a maximum 5 yr Visa.

Keep the good news stories coming!!

1560. Posted by tml (Budding Member 4 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hello guys,

I was wondering if i could get your insight into my own problem as its different to any i have read in this thread as i will be applying for a Visa for a different reason,

My works see's me travel to the middle east and a new rule came into play last year that if you have travelled to certain countries Iraq/Iran/Libya etc. within the last 5 years then you must now apply for B2 visa and are not eligible for an ESTA.

I have a few arrests when i was younger which the charges were dropped or no action taken, but also a conviction for assault and criminal damage which is now 8 years old, i have travelled to the US 3-4 times in the last 10 years each time taking the slightly risky option of ticking no on the ESTA but i genuinely believed i didn't fall under the 'Morale turpitude' section so my conscience was fairly clear.

So here's my problem, if i apply for the Visa correctly and present my past conviction even if they accept the conviction they will know that I have lied on my previous ESTA application and surely this will not be taken lightly, so what are my options? do I come clean and hope for the best or continue to deny any criminal record and hope for the best at the interview?

All input appreciated


Edit : I'm british

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Jan-2017, at 04:55 by tml ]