Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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

1621. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Quoting beavisbeavis

The officers said I can travel and they know all the travel details, he even told me to answer "No" on ESTA to the question about "Have you been arrested or convicted" because I wasn't arrested and I haven't been convicted (yet) but I'm worried about immigration. I haven't received my charge papers or court date yet and I have a lawyer which can attend my court date if it is on while I'm overseas. The lawyer also reckons I'll be fine to travel but he can't guarantee that. The police officer also reckons I'll be fine because he believes the pending charges are just on their records and the papers aren't complete yet.

Your question has already been answered by court officials, police and a lawyer. Do you really think strangers on an internet forum have further insight?

Use common sense: You weren't arrested. You haven't received any paperwork but you're still imagining that US CBP somehow has magical powers to have that paperwork in hand? From a country that doesn't even share their criminal database?

Stop making something out of nothing. Relax and enjoy your holiday.


1622. Posted by greeners29 (Budding Member 25 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Seems like a long time ago I posted in this thread asking about needing a VISA. Anyways, I hold a conviction for ABA from around 1992 when i was 19. I applied for the VISA and like everyone else had to get all the information (thats the only hard part).

I was granted a ten year VISA and have now been to the states 5 times in 4 years. Obviously I am asked at immigration why I required a VISA and that is the full extent of it.

Last October the immigration officer even stated after explaining my offence that I dont even require a VISA. So there is really not alot to be worried about if you have minor offences.

1623. Posted by cfc1sean (Budding Member 4 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

So I said I would update as to my application for a b2 visa.

Unfortunately I was knocked back by the embassy for offences of between 35 - 25 years back.

They have said within the email of visa refusal that they will put my application forward for a waiver of ineligibility.

Unfortunately because this is a 6 to 9 month process I have had to change my holiday destination.

All In all, a lesson learnt, maybe honesty is not always the best policy... I get why they want to check people and I have no issues with that, however if they really want people to be truthful then maybe they should be more open minded to peoples past convictions and accept mitigation prior to the decision given.

Unfortunately because there are so many applicants the officials don't appear to have the time to listen or look at mitigation it appears to be just black and white with no in between.

Good luck people with your individual dilemma's.....

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Apr-2017, at 11:50 by cfc1sean ]

1624. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Sorry to hear that, Sean.

What can I say... the US can be crazy.

Good luck and happy travels.


1625. Posted by Davethebrave (Budding Member 7 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I posted a question here ages ago, which was kindly answered, so I thought I'd give an update on my situation.

I was convicted of dealing drugs over 16 years ago. I won't go on about how I wasn't actually dealing and had enough for my then girlfriend and I to last a full weekend, which was viewed as too much for personal use, but perhaps it helped in some part when pleading my case in the embassy.

Having read the entire thread back at the start of 2016, I was toying with the idea of just saying no on the ESTA form and taking a chance. The thing that was stopping me was that, although this may work in the short to medium term, I wanted something that would be permanent, and would mean I wasn't unnecessarily nervous anytime I decided to either travel for work to the US in the future or book a holiday. This meant doing it officially and applying for the waiver of ineligibility and if it resulted in me being barred from the US permanently, well then fuck em to be honest, at least I'd know!

So I went through the process on the US Embassy website and made my appointment in London, which was in August 2016. I got all my documentation together including my lease agreement, bank statement, employment contract, police certificates and information about the crime, etc.

There was quite a large queue outside the embassy when I arrived, though I got through security in about 20 minutes. I had to wait before being seen by the first person, who just took my passport and some photocopies of other documents, before asking me to sit and wait around an hour for my actual interview. On the way I walked with another person who was clearly doing the same thing as me, and very loudly and in front of everyone else asked whether I had a criminal record - thanks a lot buddy!! It wasn't really what I was expecting tbh as (for whatever reason) I assumed it would be a little more private but essentially it was just talking to a woman through a pane of glass, as if I was enquiring about a train ticket! I was understandably conscious of keeping the volume down as I'm not proud of what happened, but the woman on the other side was quite friendly, asked a few questions and typed away on her keyboard. She didn't need any of my supporting documentation and after about 10 minutes explained what would happen next.

She signed off by saying that she felt I had a good case and although she couldn't guarantee anything, had put forward a recommendation that my application should be approved.

Things went quiet for about 6 months, before I was asked to send my passport to the embassy. It was sent back to me within 5 days and I sat there for about a month waiting for some confirmation as to what was happening. The status of my application was listed as 'Send Documents' on the embassy website, even though I had sent and received my passport, so I guess I was expecting official confirmation or something.

Anyway, this weekend just gone I was coming back from a weekend away when my wife dropped my passport on the ground in the airport. We noticed a full page had something new on it and on closer inspection found that it was a visa to the US, valid for 5 years from February. It had been hiding away in my passport without me noticing for a while so I was understandably delighted at the discovery. My passport expires late next year so I'm not sure whether I'll have to go through the whole process again or if I can just transfer it, but that's a question for another day.

So, to all of you who have a record from a good while ago, based on my experience it would be worth considering going down the official route rather than lying on the ESTA form. It worked for me, and I even got a 5 year visa!! New York April 2018, here we come! :)

1626. Posted by Gwenna (Budding Member 16 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

That's good news very pleased for you. I found it very hilarious you hadn't noticed the visa stamp though that's probably the first thing I'd look for.
We (my husband) are going through the same at the moment. His crime was 45!! Years ago when he was 18 and they put him straight foreword for a visa waiver which we are still waiting for.
Like you he wouldn't lie just to get an ESTA but unfortunately it probably won't come through in time for the holiday I booked for our families which I went into in detail earlier in the thread. But hey ho, lesson learnt just make sure paperwork is in order before booking. But in my defence I neively had no idea about all this as last time we all went we filled in a bit of paper on the aeroplane.
All I have to do now is teach him how to Skype/FaceTime bless him ?

1627. Posted by Davethebrave (Budding Member 7 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

Haha yeah I'm an idiot! We found it hilarious and as it happened while we were returning home from a break (usually the worst part!) it cheered us up no end.

1628. Posted by Gwenna (Budding Member 16 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

All's well that ends well. X

1629. Posted by hinkyd (Budding Member 7 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

I got my 5 year visa last December then realised my passport expired in November this year and thought I'd gone through all that palava for nothing! But the US website says that the visa belongs to the holder not the passport and so long as you travel with the expired passport that has the visa in it, as well as your current in date passport, then you'll be fine.

1630. Posted by Davethebrave (Budding Member 7 posts) 2y Star this if you like it!

That's brilliant, thanks a million for letting me know hinkyd, great to know I won't have to repeat the process until the visa actually expires. Thank you!!