Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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

2391. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1115 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!


>I understand that this means I will have to go to the embassy for an interview and that I will need to apply for an ACRO.

1. Your police caution is legally an admission of guilt so you could not truthfully answer 'No' to the ESTA question: “Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?” Some people will tell you to just lie on the ESTA and all will be fine. Unlike some other internet posters, I don't tell people what choice they should make: I prefer to give the facts and my own opinion.

If you lie on the ESTA it will cause major problems if you ever need a visa for work or living in the US, if the US ever withdraws or tightens-up the ESTA process or if the UK and US ever agree to share information about criminal records.

For those reasons alone I personally would not lie on the ESTA.

2. How much information is shown on the ACRO?

Exactly what is shown varies according to the individual applicant. The official page has some details:

3. What other documents should/could I bring to the interview to better my chances of being put forward for a waiver?

You could (not should) bring evidence of employment, housing (e.g. mortgage or rental docs), family ties (e.g. your marriage cert, your children's birth certs), evidence of any voluntary work you do but...frankly...your offence is so minor and so long ago that it's very unlikely you'll need to show the interviewing officer anything extra.

If everything else is ok I'm pretty certain you'll be recommended for a waiver without much hassle and, although it'll take 6-8 months to process via London, I'm pretty certain the waiver will be granted and you'll get your visa.

4. >How long are the visas normally granted for?

B2 visas are usually valid for 10 years but validity is entirely at the discretion of the border officers. There's no way of knowing how long your visa might be valid for so it's pointless speculating.

5. >Does anyone have any experience with being given the waiver but still being refused entry at the other end?

It's important to understand that no visa or visa waiver automatically guarantees entry to any country. Only citizens of the relevant country are guaranteed entry.

Equally, anyone with a visa waiver or a visa can be taken for secondary questioning. It's a random process, not just targeted at those who look suspicious, are arriving from countries of interest etc etc. The chances of you being taken for secondary questioning are no greater because you have a visa via waiver and the chances of anyone being taken for secondary questioning are very, very tiny indeed. So don't worry about it.

Having said all of that, I have never heard of anyone with a visa via waiver being prevented from entering the US. The waiver is a legal process which is actively required to allow you to legally enter the US. That doesn't mean it's never happened to anyone, ever but, frankly, the chances of you being actively prevented from entry are so small as to be almost non-existent. Put that worry entirely out of your mind.

6. >I’m just trying to weigh up whether this trip would be a write off from the start

Of course it isn't. People with far more serious criminal records, including those with prison sentences, have been given waivers. And people with far more serious criminal records have successfully lied on their ESTAs too.

You'll be recommended for your waiver, you'll get it and you'll eventually get your visa. Hopefully its validity will cover your future trips but, even if it doesn't, the fact that you've had it once will make the whole process much easier next time around.

So stop worrying, get your visa application on the way...or perhaps wait a year or so if you really aren't likely to go to the US within the next 18 months?.......and I'm sure everything will work out ok. :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 08-May-2019, at 18:51 by leics2 ]

2392. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Whoknew

Does anyone have any experience with being given the waiver but still being refused entry at the other end?

Maybe if you're a complete plank who gets blind drunk on the plane and abuses the staff/customs/border control etc.
Otherwise it's extremely unlikely.

2393. Posted by Travelgirl94x (Budding Member 6 posts) 40w Star this if you like it!

Success story here!- want to say a massive thank you to Andrew Mack, Leics and also Travelman.

I have read this forum for about 6 months now on and off and you can see I posted in for some advice. My partner did jail time 5 years ago for GBH, not getting into the full story but it is on my previous post. We decided to book our first family holiday to Florida for April 2018 back in September, wasn’t till after we booked we thought about the Estas. I did my research and knew it was to such short notice going for a visa! So after some research and the great advice from certain individuals on here we was happy to tick no and go.

We arrived into MCO about 2.15PM we was one of the first off the plane as we had a newborn with us. We got in the que after about a 30 minute wait we was next to be seen by one of the officers. We just remained calm and the office called us over. He said hello do you have your passports. We have them to him he asked if we had been to the USA before I said yes so I didn’t need my finger prints doing just my partner! I thought ohhh no! But I was wrong. He simply did his 2 thumbs then fingers on each hand. Took our photos, told us how cute our daughter was, asked the purpose of our visit and said thank you, welcome to America!

I know some people wouldn’t take the risk but we did and I think it’s important for people to share theirs success story’s if they do take the risk. Any questions let me know! We are home now after an amazing trip!

2394. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1115 posts) 40w Star this if you like it!

I'm glad you had a successful visit. The UK and US do not, at the moment, share a generalised fingerprint database so fingerprints aren't really relevant.

I'm sure thousands of people take the risk of lying on their ESTAs every year and successfully enter the US. Occasionally people do come back to this thread to tell us they've been successful after lying, though more commonly to tell us they have been successful in obtaining a visa. But I'm not sure it's actually helpful for others to know that lying on the ESTA has been successful for an individual. Whilst the chances of detection are small they *do* exist .....and lying on the ESTA is a US criminal offence.

As I see it, our 'job' on here is simply to give the facts to the best of our knowledge, not to judge or to tell people what to do. Once an individual knows the facts (e.g that secondary questioning can happen to anyone, that lying on an ESTA is potentially a US criminal offence, that lying on an ESTA will cause major problems if ever a US visa is required etc) it is absolutely and entirely up to him or her to make the decision. :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 16-May-2019, at 14:08 by leics2 ]

2395. Posted by Spiffy (Budding Member 9 posts) 39w Star this if you like it!

Hi folks, looking for some advice here. I got a visa back in 2005 as I had a few previous convictions. I'm looking to get another one and started the ball rolling by applying for the ACRO and also a Subject Access Request from Police Scotland as I live in Scotland and my convictions are from here. Got them back and both of them are clear.
When I got the visa first time round only the one from My local Police listed my convictions but now they are not showing up. My problem is that I can't remember the exact dates of them and if I do go for the visa interview I will not have any evidence of any convictions.
What do I do? Will the US Embassy have all my details on file from my previous visa application?
Thanks for any advice.

2396. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1115 posts) 39w Star this if you like it!

>Will the US Embassy have all my details on file from my previous visa application?<

Frankly, I'd be amazed if they haven't.

I'm also sure they are fully aware of the process by which some convictions can be 'stepped-down' so that after a period of time they no longer appear on the ACRO certificate. However, that doesn't help you to complete the visa documentation for which you need all the details of 'stepped-down' convictions.

This page (from a very useful site run by a charity for ex-offenders) suggests that you 'contact ACRO to obtain details of the conviction information that was not disclosed on your Certificate.':

and I suggest you do so as well, explaining that you need the full details of all your past offences because you're going to apply for a US visa.

It may take a while longer but you'll eventually get all the info you need, which is much better than just guessing and possibly finding that your info doesn't tally with that held by the Embassy.

As you've already had a US visa I doubt there'll be any issue with getting another one (assuming everything else is ok) but it's best to have all your ducks in a row before you make the application.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-May-2019, at 17:39 by leics2 ]

2397. Posted by Spiffy (Budding Member 9 posts) 39w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for your reply, it's greatly appreciated. I've had a look at that page as it says on it that if your ACRO certificate comes back as ''No Trace'' as mine did, it means that you have no convictions, reprimands, final warnings or cautions held on the Police National Computer.

I'm worried if I do contact them they will have no record of my convictions.
Is there anything else I can do? Would it be better to phone the US Embassy?

2398. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1115 posts) 39w Star this if you like it!

It is possible that your convictions no longer show on an ACRO but they may still exist in the records. So, before you start worrying too much, contact ACRO, explain the situation (including what you remember of your offences) and see what they say.

If they can't help ......and there's absolutely no other way you can find the dates & details you need.... then I think you should contact the US Embassy and ask their advice.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-May-2019, at 19:02 by leics2 ]

2399. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 39w Star this if you like it!

I'd guess that as you've had a visa before and also you haven't any additional convictions since then, the US Embassy Visa guys will be quite accommodating. If you had some new convictions since the last visa they could get a bit difficult.

2400. Posted by Spiffy (Budding Member 9 posts) 39w Star this if you like it!

Thanks. I've emailed ACRO and given as much info as I can remember. I'll see what they say. My last conviction was about 22 years ago and nothing since. I'm thinking calling the Embassy is the thing to do.
Thanks again