Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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

2361. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 724 posts) 8w 1 Star this if you like it!

JamieEighty:

You originally posted on another thread so I'll give the link so others can access your story if they wish:

https://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=114642

I understand your nervousness, having answered 'No' on the ESTA when you have a conviction for affray, but as I said on that thread:

>..........you'll just have to live with the worry of being pulled aside and/or refused entry. Assuming that everything else is ok I personally think the chances of that happening are very tiny indeed, though they exist for everyone who is not a US citizen.

I wish you the best of luck. :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Apr-2019, at 08:26 by leics2 ]

2362. Posted by Travelgirl94x (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Hi everyone! I posted on the previous page but it’s only just been approved by the admin team. Has anybody got any advice? Thanks!

2363. Posted by Travelgirl94x (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

JamieEighty- what day are you traveling and into what airport?

2364. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 864 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Travelgirl94x

I can see people say they have but no one has stated what their criminal record was for?

If you've lied on your ESTA then what criminal record you have is unimportant (unless it's terrorism related!).
The USA doesn't have access to the UK criminal database (although I believe they do have access to the separate terrorism database).
It just means you must continue with the lie if you're randomly stopped by USA immigration/border control etc.

It also means that you must not get into bad situations with the police there, or they could make a special request for your info which would result in your immediate deportation and prevent you from ever visiting the USA again.
On top of this there's the issue that because you lied on an esta you are extremely unlikely to ever get any form of long term USA visa (work or otherwise, where they do require a criminal check), and you need to hope they never drop the esta system (so you'd need a full visa in future) or get full access to the UK database in the future.

I suggest that if you ever have children then you point out to them the problems of getting a criminal record when it comes to USA travel.

ps I'm not suggesting anyone wants their kids to get a record but this is just reinforcing the problems it causes.

[ Edit: Edited on 20-Apr-2019, at 04:54 by Andrew Mack ]

2365. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 724 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Travelgirl94x, your previous post asks, in essence:

>Has any recently travelled to the USA with a criminal record, did less than a year in prison and got in under an esta?

Andrew Mack is absolutely correct.

Which US airport you fly into is absolutely irrelevant, as the date and time of arrival. Border officers follow exactly the same laws, rules, regulations and internal guidelines at all US airports and in all US preclearance airports e.g. Dublin.

The length of a prison sentence is not important. What matters is the crime itself. If a prison sentence is given it's obvious that a) the crime was serious and b) probably involved moral turpitude. The person who was convicted of that crime should not have ticked 'No' on the ESTA (doing so can be a criminal offence in the US) . 'No' can be ticked only for the most minor of crimes which do not involve drugs or moral turpitude, such as ordinary speeding tickets. That fact is made very clear indeed both on the ESTA application and on the US Embassy website.

I'm sure hundreds of people who have lied on their ESTAs have successfully entered the US but what happens to others, regardless of their crimes, has no relevance whatsoever to what might happen to you or anyone else.

Anyone who is a non-US citizen can be taken aside for secondary questioning at border control ('Customs') regardless of whether they have a visa or an ESTA. Secondary questioning happens at random as well as being targeted at people who look nervous or dubious, who are flagged on the system, who are arriving from countries of interest etc.

If a person is taken aside for secondary questioning it is up to him/her whether to continue lying and thus compound the offence.

I can only reiterate that the stories of others cannot tell you what might happen to you. If the decision to lie on the ESTA is made, the person who made that decision must accept the potential consequences in exactly the same way as when any law is broken.

The chances of anyone being taken for secondary questioning are slim but they do exist. You should be aware of that possibility just as you should be aware of the difficulty lying on the ESTA will cause if a visa is needed in future (as Andrew Mack set out).

[ Edit: Edited on 20-Apr-2019, at 05:08 by leics2 ]

2366. Posted by Travelgirl94x (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Andre Mack and Leics2– thank you for your advice it is very much appreciated!

My partners criminal record was from 5 years ago in which he was in the Army and a fight broke out on a night out. There was several others who was in the fight who got arrested who all no commented to their crime however as like my parents his always taught him to tell the truth in which he did and all other 7 men didn’t get charged and he did as none of it was on camera or witness. He took the blame and was discharged from the army and served 9 months for GBH and is now back in the army as he was given a reference to the court that it was out of character as my partner has never been in trouble before. He is now back in the army and we live a very happy life! We now have our 8 month old daughter who is due to travel with us to Orlando. I understand there is the risk they can ask people for second questioning and he took full responsibility if this was to happen. He will though stand by what he has stated on the Esta. Has anyone got any advice on Orlando? As I said we are traveling myself , partner and 8 month old.

2367. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 724 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Thank you for adding some detail, though little of it is relevant to the issue. How, when, where and who else was involved is only relevant if your husband is questioned by a border official: it's not relevant to the ESTA/visa question.

Regardless of the circumstances, whether others were to blame and/or convicted and regardless of how long ago the crime occurred, your husband was convicted of and was given quite a lengthy prison sentence for GBH, which is a crime involving moral turpitude and would certainly be considered 'serious'. US immigration laws are strict and do not recognise any 'spent' convictions in other jurisdictions.

I'm not sure how your husband, if he is asked, will feel able to 'stand by' his ESTA lie if he feels, as he apparently does, that telling the truth is important.

Imo, your husband would have been better advised to go for a visa, which would almost certainly have been granted albeit after a waiver of ineligibility had been processed.

But, as I said, the chances of your husband being taken aside for secondary questioning are very slim and I do hope that does not occur.

Has anyone got any advice on Orlando?

It would be a good idea to post this as a new question on the forum. Only people already involved in this thread will see it here and there are far more TP members who'll be able to give you lots of information and advice.

[ Edit: Edited on 20-Apr-2019, at 13:38 by leics2 ]

2368. Posted by Travelgirl94x (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for your reply Leics2!

I understand everything you have posted. We don’t intented to ever move or work in the USA. We however decided after this trip we won’t be going back again. We are going wit my family members and staying with our family who have lived out there for 25 years. They also advised us to Tick no etc. we didn’t take the decision lightly and after going through everything we thought we would tick no and take the chance. We are just going for a 2 week vacation to go to the parks so we don’t intent to get into any trouble whilst over there he! He has even decided not to drive over there to so he can’t be stopped. Good idea I will open a new forum and ask if anyone has gotten into Orlando! Please know I really appreciate your word As I have read every single page of this chat ( took me a good few days going back 13 years haha! And it made me feel better and have also seen advice given to others. I know everyone’s different and not all will be the same for others but I think and hope we will be ok! No alcohol either at the airport or on the aircraft !

2369. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 724 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Thank you for understanding why it's important for us to be honest about the facts, even if it makes difficult reading.

If you're just going to ask about entering the US there's absolutely no point in posting another question. As I, and many others have said, it makes no difference at all which airport you land at: the laws, rules, processes and procedures are exactly the same at all US airports.

I suppose the chances of being randomly stopped for secondary questioning might be higher at very tourist-popular airports, simply because the US authorities know full well that many people lie on their ESTAs. But I don't know that for a fact...and no-one here or anywhere else can tell you exactly what the chances are.

If your husband is taken for secondary questioning he will, of course, be asked more detailed questions. Questions vary from individual to individual so, again, the stories of others are not relevant to any other individual.

Equally, what happens to an individual if he/she undergoes secondary questioning depends on the individual and his/her circumstances: he/she may be free to enter with no problems, he/she may only be granted a very short entry period, he/she may be denied entry and deported or may be charged with a US criminal offence.

[ Edit: Edited on 20-Apr-2019, at 14:50 by leics2 ]

2370. Posted by ChuChuTrainGo (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Considering the fact that Trump is the president it might not be as easy as it was when Obama was president...