Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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

1851. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 499 posts) 48w Star this if you like it!

Gwenna, your experience is exactly why I mention that sort of questioning/secondary screening/whatever terminology one wants to use.

It is to be expected in the check-in queue and/or post-UK security when flying UK>US. You experienced a much more thorough examination than usual, possibly due to the 'tightening up' pre-flight required by the present US administration or maybe just because you fitted the right 'random' box on the day.

I'll stress again that at no point have I suggested that those who lie on their ESTAs and/or have criminal records are specifically targeted. I don't know how exactly how the process works and neither does anyone else. But imo it is something that everyone travelling UK>US should expect (albeit not usually to the extent of your examination) and should therefore be mentioned. Not everyone agrees with me, of course, but such is life. :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Feb-2018, at 06:41 by leics2 ]

1852. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 846 posts) 48w Star this if you like it!

Originally the secondary screening was (and probably should still be) random. The idea was that if you could not tell whether you would be more thoroughly screened then that would keep you from traveling if you were a terrorist. You should not be able to pick someone innocent looking to carry the bomb or smuggle the drugs or whatever. Also they wanted to avoid accusations of profiling.

So while it seems counter-intuitive to pick a 95 year old crippled woman for secondary screening rather than a bearded guy a long coat on a hot day, that's what secondary screening does.

Also, the screening is re-active rather than pro-active. Someone comes on board with something in his shoe, and how everyone has to remove their shoes - etc.

The screening at Heathrow is very exhaustive for us when changing planes there. I once had to go into a room and disrobe because I had my pills that I needed to take that night in a pouch inside my clothes and when they patted me down, the pills rattled. They wanted to see them and I was wearing a dress - I couldn't get the pouch out without taking the dress off. (Stupid of me, but whatever). My grandson who was traveling with me was very amused - he kept saying "Grandma had a cavity search". Which it wasn't, but I couldn't show them what was in the pouch without taking off my dress and I guess they didn't want everyone in the airport to be struck blind. ;) as I was not wearing a bra. So they took me into a private room.

I've not had a problem returning to the US. I did have the dog alert on my bum bag in Sydney (Australia) because I had a banana in there that I'd forgotten but that's about it.

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Feb-2018, at 08:25 by greatgrandmaR ]

1853. Posted by Faux (First Time Poster 1 posts) 48w Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone, just thought I’d share my experience.
I just returned from a 3 week holiday in Hawaii. I have an extensive drug related criminal history, charged twice with sentences carry life imprisonment but let off on both occasions. Did 12months community service back in 2010 and spent a couple months in prison in 2016 before charges were dropped. Ticked no on the esta and sailed through. Rolled the dice as ppl call it on here. I was screened upon check in, got asked the usual q’s eg: why are you visiting the US, do you have a job...etc. They took photos and fingerprints at border security and that was it.
I’m Asian, tattooed all over with sleeves showing just for those wondering about appearances.
Good luck to those thinking about ticking no. It’s a risk but a minor one I think.

1854. Posted by shamps (First Time Poster 1 posts) 46w Star this if you like it!

Hi all - so I have read the multiple pages and pages of very useful and helpful opinion and advice contained in this thread.

So me and my husband received a conviction for incorrectly claiming train delay compensation around 2 years ago (2016) - we both received a fine but the actual conviction is classed as fraud by misrepresentation - all monies were paid back to the train company instantly and we fully accepted the outcome. The fine was the only sentence imposed.

So we have travelled to the US before 2016 around 10 times on ESTA's but obviously haven't been back since the outcome as we would not "roll the dice" on the ESTA question due to our honest approach.

We are looking to go back to the USA in late 2019 so wanting to start the ball rolling this summer. We are going to go down the B1 Visa route with the DS-160, VCU1 and ACRO certificates.

I accept that in our eyes, we only received a fine and that claiming for some train delays that we were not entitled to claim for is, in our opinion, not a major crime especially as we fully accepted our mistake once it was pointed out to us and rectified any monies owed back to the train company.

What is the opinion of this forum about our chances or success - would we get the visa upon the appointment in London/Belfast or would we need to get approved for a waiver and then send the passports off some 4/6/8 months down the line to hopefully get the stamp?

Any suggestions or advice on this type of conviction and our chances would be helpful?


1855. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 894 posts) 46w Star this if you like it!

You might get more help if you posted a new question instead of using an 11-year-old one.

You are only going to get opinions, some good and some not so good. You need to talk to the visa folks to get an authoritative answer. There is no way anyone outside the system can tell you what will happen.

Good luck.

Post 1856 was removed by a moderator
1857. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 499 posts) 46w 1 Star this if you like it!

The 'visa folks', as you probably already know, do not and will not speculate on the outcome of a visa interview. So please don't waste time and money trying to phone the embassy in London or Belfast to get an answer.

There's really no way of knowing whether you'll both require a waiver of ineligibility or will be granted a visa on interview. Your crime is classed as fraud, and fraud is a CIMT (crime involving moral turpitude).

Much depends on the officer who deals with each of you on the day and on how your interview proceeds. I think you've made the right decision to set things in motion now for a 2019 trip. Even if you do both require a waiver of ineligibility (which is possible) you have ample time to get things sorted.

So my advice is not to worry. Chances are you'll get your visas, with or without needing a waiver/waivers, in plenty of time for your trip.......and that's what actually matters. :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 26-Feb-2018, at 14:23 by leics2 ]

1858. Posted by Scooby1972 (Budding Member 2 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

Hi im new on here need some help 19 yearsago I got acaution forreckless arsonnew years eve and I fellasleep left oven on I wantto apply for a visa what are my chances ofgetting 1 or should I applyfor esta thanks in advsnce ps im british want to take my children to Disney world next year

1859. Posted by travelman99 (Respected Member 230 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

Scooby - this question has been answered several hundred times before.... I suggest you look back and read the thread.

No one can give you a definitive answer. US doesn’t have regular access to the PCN - tick no and enjoy your holidays.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Mar-2018, at 09:17 by travelman99 ]

1860. Posted by leics2 (Respected Member 499 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

>should I applyfor esta

No-one here or anywhere else can tell you whether you should apply for an ESTA visa waiver. Only you can make that decision.

If you were arrested as well as cautioned then you would have to lie on the ESTA, which asks if you have ever been arrested and/or convicted. It is your decision whether you do so or not but you should be aware of the potential consequences. I suggest you read through this page:

Some refer to the rather nebulous concept of 'crimes involving moral turpitude' being the only crimes which can restrict entry to the US. Arson is one of those crimes, according to wiki:

> what are my chances of getting 1

No-one here or anywhere else can tell you for certain. As your caution occurred 19 years ago, and assuming there are no other reasons to refuse a visa, I see no reason why you would have any difficulty in being granted a visa...but that's just my opinion. You'll have to apply, make an interview appointment and attend an interview in London or Belfast.

Given the nature of your offence and the time which has passed, imo it is likely...and this is only my opinion, based on the experience of a close friend,...that you will be granted a visa without having to get a 'waiver of ineligibility', a process which can take several months.

As I said at the start, only you can decide what to do. I'd go the visa route rather than lie on the ESTA because I'd want my mind fully at rest and I'd want to know that I could go back to the US in future without having to worry. But others (as above) feel quite differently and will advise you to lie on the ESTA and not worry about it. It's entirely your choice. :-)

If you do decide to apply for a visa I suggest you do so months in advance of your trip, just in case the officer who conducts your interview decides that you do need a waiver of ineligibility. The London US embassy advises that can take 6-8 months to process.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Mar-2018, at 09:21 by leics2 ]