Travelling to US with a criminal record in the UK

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

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2921. Posted by jaygatz (Budding Member 2 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

Quoting triptaker

Simple caution for class A possession (cocaine)

I could’ve bitten the bullet and ticked “No” to all the questions on the ESTA/VWP boxes but that would prevent me ever being able to live/work in the states.

Just wondering about this – is it ever possible to get around a drug offence as far as immigrant visas are concerned?

Not a B1/B2 temporary one, but one to actually live out there?

Is there a loophole/waiver of inadmissibility I've missed?

2922. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 3340 posts) 1w 1 Star this if you like it!

>Simple caution for class A possession (cocaine)

I could’ve bitten the bullet and ticked “No” to all the questions on the ESTA/VWP boxes but that would prevent me ever being able to live/work in the states.

I think you may have misunderstood this post.

In this post it is not simply the cocaine possession which automatically prevents the poster from being able to live/work in the US. It is the equally (if not more) serious offence of lying on the ESTA application form. If he/she had ticked 'No' on the ESTA he/she would have been making a deliberate fraudulent declaration, which is a criminal offence in the US. That fraudulent declaration would be discovered when the poster applied for anytype of US visa and would thus almost certainly have prevented him/her from living or working in the US (and probably holidaying too).

>is it ever possible to get around a drug offence as far as immigrant visas are concerned?

Visa decisions are made on all the details of an individual's application and circumstances. It is impossble to state with certainty what the outcome of any application will be. The only way to find out is to make an application.

Being convicted of a drug offence is not automatically a ban on ever getting a US visa: it just makes things more complex. Assuming that the offence was minor (e.g. personal possession), everything else is ok and that the offence took place at least 5 years before application (the longer ago the better) it is likely that the interviewing officer would recommend most people for a waiver of inadmissability (see below).

A convicted and imprisoned drug dealer or someone with a string of drug offence convictions has much, much less chance of being recommended for a waiver than someone who was charged & convicted once for cocaine possession for personal use e.g. 10+ years ago.

>Is there a loophole/waiver of inadmissibility I've missed?

There are no 'loopholes' but the waiver of inadmissability can apply to all the ineligibilities for entry to the US.

It is the interviewing officer who decides whether to recommend an applicant for a waiver of inadmissability, working within all the relevant laws, regulations and internal guidelines and basing his/her decision on all the applicant's details, the answers given at interview and how the applicant presents him/herself at that interview (I don't mean just clothes!).

The interviewing officer only makes the recommendation. The waiver application itself is processed in the US. It usually takes several months for a decision to be made. If a recommendation is made by an interviewing officer the waiver is usually granted but there is no absolute certainty. Once the waiver is granted the applicant can send in his/her passport and the visa will be provided.

Hope that makes things clearer.

[ Edit: Edited on 11 Oct 2021, 06:57 GMT by leics2 ]

2923. Posted by jaygatz (Budding Member 2 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

Quoting leics2

the waiver of inadmissability can apply to all the ineligibilities for entry to the US.

Entry, yes, for temporary work or a holiday. Not an immigrant visa.

An immigrant waiver is 'only available if the [controlled substance] violation relates to a single offense of simple possession of marijuana in the amount of 30 grams or less.' - https://messersmithlaw.com/ina-212a2aiii/|

Wacky baccy aside, the US is extraordinarily inhospitable to people with drug offences in their past.

2924. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 3340 posts) 1w 2 Star this if you like it!

Waivers of inadmissability/ineligibility apply to all visa types. They directly relate to the ineligibilities within US immigration laws.

There are some apparent generalities, such as the one you quote from the private law firm but each individual case is different.

In the case of serious drug offences, it may well be necessary to take the legal route (which can, of course, cost a substantial amount of money). I noted the case of a previous poster with serious drug offences who was eventually successful in obtaining a work/residence visa but she had the funds to employ specialist lawyers and stressed that it was both a difficult and an expensive process.

>the US is extraordinarily inhospitable to people with drug offences in their past.

The US, like every country, has the right to set its own entry and visa rules. Personally, I see no reason why one would expect any country to be more 'hospitable' to those who have been convicted of serious drug offences than to those convicted of other serious criminal offences.

[ Edit: Edited on 12 Oct 2021, 07:16 GMT by leics2 ]

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