Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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

1781. Posted by loveitbeauty (Budding Member 11 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for your responses. I guess it’s a matter of waiting it out. I’d just never heard of ESTA being declined before, they’ve checked the form and it looks like everything was answered correctly (apart from the conviction section)

1782. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 499 posts) 51w Star this if you like it!

I do hope the waiver of ineligibility comes through soon...or that at least your friend can get his passport back in time for your holiday.

1783. Posted by Michelleleej (Budding Member 27 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

Advise please:-(

20 years ago my husband got charged with possession of cannabis with intent, possession of cannabis and possession of amphetamine (this was the same day but they did it for 3 different charges) also had a 15 month sentence for fighting in 1994. A couple of other arrests but no further action was taken. Again 20 years ago.
He applied for an esta I think several years ago but got turned down as he put yes to criminal conviction. He never went it was all forgotten. He booked flights for 4th July this year and he just completed his esta and put no to everything as we assumed they were spent and all cleared as he got called up for jury service and also has full clearance to work in banks, courts, hospitals etc. At no point did we put no to try and hide anything we genuinely thought they were cleared, to Our amazement the police check still has everything thing on. Wehave to now fill in the DS-160 and apply. Firstly it looks like we have try to hide it which was not the case and secondly we are due to travel on 4th July and the website says a minimum of 6-8 months. Any ideas on what to do. I can not get any kind of refund through BA but I don’t think he will even get a visa now

[ Edit: Edited on 30-Jan-2018, at 07:50 by Michelleleej ]

1784. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 499 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

It seems as if your husband's application for an ESTA was denied (no doubt because the previous denial was on record in the system) and so he needs to get a visa?

>we assumed they were spent and all cleared

When it comes to ESTAs and visas the US does not recognise convictions as 'spent'. Even in the UK, the slate isn't wiped clean when a conviction is 'spent'. Charges, convictions, sentences & cautions still remain on the person's criminal record (which, when you think about it, makes sense: the crime was committed, the person was found guilty and sentenced). The only real difference is that a 'spent' conviction doesn't have to be declared to most employers, though there are some very important exceptions:

If your husband applies for and attends a US visa appointment imo it is likely (given his criminal record and the nature of his crimes) that he will be either offered a 'waiver of ineligibility' or refused a visa. That decision will be based not only on his past criminal record but also on his present circumstances, how he presents himself at interview, the answers he gives to questions asked and on the officer's own judgement. No-one can tell you with any certainty what will happen.

You are right that If he is offered the chance of a 'waiver of ineligibility', the processing time is 6-8 months.

I'm sorry but I personally think it's unlikely your husband will get his visa in time for your trip. But I'm not a US border official (no-one on an internet forum is) so that's only my opinion.

You're right that BA probably won't allow a refund though it depends on what type of tickets you bought.

It may be possible to get a refund of the tax element of your fare.

I'm so sorry to be the bearer of bad news...but I think you'd already prepared yourself?

[ Edit: Edited on 30-Jan-2018, at 12:52 by leics2 ]

1785. Posted by Michelleleej (Budding Member 27 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

I have to say I’m absolutely devastated. I can’t even change the name on the ticket, or change it to a week without being charged several hundred pounds. I really didn’t think it would be like this after all this time. The thought of a family trip without my husband is filling me with dread. Heartbroken. I don’t see the point in even trying with the timescales involved. I’m sure I read somewhere that Belfast is a lot quicker but now I can’t even find that!

1786. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 230 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

Michelle - when he applied for the ESTA recently, did it get approved?

1787. Posted by Michelleleej (Budding Member 27 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

No it got declined

1788. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 499 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

Michelle, I'm really sorry this has happened to you. I'm not surprised that you're devastated but I'm afraid it is as it is.

> I really didn’t think it would be like this after all this time

The US simply does not accept convictions as 'spent', however old they are. And, to be honest, I'm not sure the UK does either (for those citizenships which need UK visas)...nor other countries.

I'm afraid your only option is to hope that your husband's visa interview ends up with him being granted a visa or, if he needs a waiver of ineligibility, it comes through quickly enough for him to fly out with you in July.

[ Edit: Edited on 31-Jan-2018, at 14:16 by leics2 ]

1789. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 230 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

UK is actually pretty lenient with previous record. Anything under 4 years in jail and your fine. This is also the same with most countries, even Australia!

Michelle, just to add to Leic2 comment. Convictions used to be "stepped down" after a certain period of time and therefore wouldn't show up on your record. This was changed to a filtering process. Filtering allows minor offences to become "hidden" on your record, meaning they wont show up under any circumstance. The record can, and will, only be used by law enforcement if you are under investigation.

However, because your husband has multiple convictions, these will never be filtered, and will show up on enhanced checks. That said, the DBS service recently changed regulation so pointless checks are no longer done.

Sadly though, Leic2 is right... there is no Rehabilitation Act in the USA. Which means until pardoned, you're a criminal for life. Because Liberty.

You're unlikely to get your Visa on time - honesty isn't always the best policy when it comes to these things.

1790. Posted by Benjaminedmund (Budding Member 9 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

Michelle ... just thought I'd let you know that I went for my interview in London on 2nd October.
I received my "please send passport" email less than 4 calendar months which was a surprise.
Not saying your application would be the same... might be a few more in the queue with summer coming up.... who knows. Maybe worth a try if you can get a quick appointment. .... I got my London appointment within 2 wks when booking. Options were very limited but I just took the 1st I could.