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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31. Posted by Chocolate88 (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi all

Again, the ever asked question of entry into USA with a conviction. Regrettably, when i was 17, i stole some money from my place of work, not a lot (£35), but something i'm mortified about nonetheless. My gut feeling is that because it is classed as "theft from an employer" rather than nicking something from Boots, and that by the time i was processed through the judicial system i had turned 18, it may be classed as more serious.

I was given a 6 month conditional discharge and fined £70 or so....this was 10 years ago.

I've never thought about this until now as i am desperate to visit the U.S. No firm plans as yet though as dont want to get my hopes up and then blow it.

Despite the above and my remorse for what happened, i'll be honest, i'd lie on my entry forms if it meant customs/immigration dont know about what happened as i dont see that it is of any relevance now. At all. But i appreciate that if they ask therein lies the moral dilemma.

My question is twofold - firstly do the USA and UK share this type of information and will they know about my conviction in order to question me with what will basically be rhetorrical questions? and is my conviction serious enough for it to be something i really should declare and speak to the embassy about? if i need to i will. I'm asking as these things are always different case by case but perhaps the bottom line is the bottom line when it comes to entry.

Another couple of FYI's is that i dont have a passport with a chip (got no idea if this matters), its the standard old type, and i havent applied for or filled out any forms since it happened where it stated whether i had any convictions, so nothing should be anywhere on record (other than police) - i was told at the time of the offence by my solicitor that after so many years i dont need to declare it but this could have been just around the rehab of offenders act and "spent" status which it clearly is.

Any advice and thoughts would be welcome.


32. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Regarding your conviction, Read Point #1 in Post #22.


33. Posted by Chocolate88 (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Terry - i did see that post but wasnt sure if my conviction fell into that category (despite you saying no jail time means its a non issue - it really was stressed to me at the time that because it had been from my job it was a lot worse in the eyes of the law.)

If thats the case then perhaps i'll consider getting something booked.

Thanks again

34. Posted by Chocolate88 (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

P.S could i just ask where you get your knowledge of the subject from? there seems to be so many mixed views on this i cant understand why some people are getting very antsy about the fact you should NEVER be "dishonest" and lie on the forms....yet you are extremely clear on the matter which is helpful.


35. Posted by dannyjp13 (Budding Member 25 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Jay,

my mate had a record (got caught and cautioned for selling weed a few years back - had to go to court, etc) - we were in Canada and wanting to cross into America - he got stopped at the boarder and questioned for around 5 hours but eventually was allowed through.

good luck mate

36. Posted by casinoroyale (Budding Member 4 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I've been researching this topic myself for many months and agree with others about the amount of (mis)information out there.

The advice I can give from my own perspective is to start by applying to your local Police Force for a Subject Access Request under Data Protection. This will cost £10 and take no more than 40 days. Most local forces have web forms you can download and fill out.

The Subject Access Request (SAR) will reveal to you exactly what information the UK Police hold on you. In my experience this is the greatest area of uncertainty, as many have historical arrests, charges or convictions going back years, which may no longer even exist on the Police National Computer (point of fact is that any arrests or charges not resulting in conviction were wiped totally pre 2006).

With the SAR in-hand you are better placed to determine whether you even need to apply for a Visa. I have no idea what information is shared with the USA, but one thing is certain, if the information doesn't exist, it can't be shared. And the SAR will tell you exactly what does exist.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Mar-2011, at 06:32 by casinoroyale ]

37. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Excellent advice casinoroyale, especially for older people with charges that happened years and years and years ago...


38. Posted by danniboy79 (Budding Member 2 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi I'm looking for some advice. After a pretty dismal upbringing, I went through a huge trauma in my late teens. This led me to having some kind of mental breakdown, I dropped out of school, got in with the wrong crowd and had a lot of anger.
In the period of a year I clocked up several arrests, the most recent of which resulted in my serving 6 months in a YOI institute. All of these convictions were drink related disorders and I am utterly ashamed of each and every one of them.
I do however belive that my time in prison was my saviour, it gave me routine, time out and clarity to look at my life and see other options.
Since my release I have moved on, moved away and worked extremely hard to put the past behind me, I now have great friends and my own family.
I have studyed and gone from having no qualifications at all to putting myself through university and achieving great grades, during employment I have worked my way up to managerial roles and I now run my own business.
All of my convictions are spent within the UK and took place nearly 17 years ago. The UK laws and government have allowed me to put the past behind me and become the person I always wanted to be.
I really want to visit the USA and have contacted their agency to make an appointment to get a visa. However, since making the appointment I have been advised that they will not consider my offences spent and that because there were multiple arrests I would be unsuitable for a visa.
I know someone who was in a similar situation but his dad took him to the USA as soon as he was released and has been visiting ever since, he advised me that I should just lose my passport, get a new one with a new number and visit as a tourist.
I have worked hard to provide for my family and really want them to be able to have all the things i never had, I would love to take them on holiday to Disneyworld while they are young.
I would value your comments and advice. Thanks.

39. Posted by casinoroyale (Budding Member 4 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

My advice remains consistent with that above. First obtain a Subject Access Request from your local Police Force. This will tell you exactly what personal information the Police retain, and it is this information that needs to be declared to the US Embassy.

Applying for a visa is long-winded, expensive, and seems tedious and at times repetitive. However in my view the assurance offered from obtaining one far outweighs any cost and inconvenience. Yes, there are many accounts of tourists with records who do not declare a criminal past, and who travel to and from the USA without incident. But there are equally cases where such tourists are detained at the port of entry and sent home.

Ultimately I would advise you to just push on and go for a visa regardless of what anyone may tell you. Take heart in the knowledge that the system is not in place to permanently bar people who have generally put such a past behind them and moved on with life. Re-visiting these past events can be very uncomfortable, and even traumatic – but it’s important to see this only as a process that can be conquered. Just stay determined, and see it through to the end.

Best of luck.

40. Posted by philem43 (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

[quote=kevandshan]Customs only have criminal record info on their respective citizens. I cannot say exactly what info they see, but lets just say that if you are of interest they will catch you.

Do not carry large sums of cash and other obvious products/ substances.

If you are from another country...the chances are no, they do not know of your criminal record. However, these agencies share info with one another. If you get caught out, don't ever plan on going back--that is if you get outa jail!

Its a judgement call. If you were busted for smokin some puff then don't lose sleep on it--go for it. But if you earn your living from holdin up McDonalds (and who can blame you) then forget it--they will know about you before you land!!

They are looking for individuals that are violating the law. Not because you jacked a car 5 years ago. But if you are going in on a visa waiver, remember that you wave your right to appeal and will be deported immediately if caught.

The safest way is to apply for a visa.[/quo

i have been watching this for a while now and very nervous!!
I have a criminal record from when i was a stupid teenager(22 years ago) it is a GBH,wounding carring a offensive weapon , theft and criminal damage not proud of it now
Now i have the oppotunity to go to NYC with work for 3 weeks and have an interview at the american embassy on Monday just wondered if anyone can shed any light if i have any chance of getting a visa? I have submitted my criminal record with them,any feed back would be welcome

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