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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441. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Tom, as has been mentioned countless times throughout this thread no one can offer advice when you give no clue as to your nationality and no clue as to when the convictions took place but I'll assume you're from the UK.

In that case your situation has been addressed many times throughout this thread.


442. Posted by Eyespy (Budding Member 10 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Well I thought I'd keep this thread burning like an irritating tickle in the back of your throat!

I cannot believe having read all the posts how much mis-information can be disseminated by so many!
Thankfully there are some factual stories and good advice giving some credence to the general message delivered repeatedly by 'Cheers T' - which after 6 hours of reading and cross referencing embedded links in this thread is - The Beast that is US Customs is what it is and you take your chances - if you have any sniff of a nefarious past!

I realise that my 1988 UK conviction of possession of a controlled substance followed by 1998 UK convictions of possession, cultivation and supplying a controlled substance - cannabis class B, possibly makes me inadmissible through the Visa entry system, but this, bolstered by my crime of 'Moral Turpitude' - in 1998 of a conviction and CSO for Obtaining Property by Deception makes me out to be one hell of a bad boy never to set foot on those Sherman shores!

So that's why I automatically filled out mine and my Dutch wife's' ESTA's with No's at every response!
It's a self preservation thing - I've come to terms with it now! Try to forget my shameful past with denial!

So does anyone know if these convictions are spent as suggested by the link found earlier in the quagmire of posts from 'Cheers T' from the Telegraph article about the revamping of a 1974 law? - and what does spent really mean?

Every time I renew a contract with the NHS I have to jump through excited bureaucratic hoops and relive the tales of my arrests and the why's and remorse to some arrogant administrator and equally qualified professional Advisory committee, relishing my shame! My Enhanced CRB (called something else now) always shows the same convictions (thankfully) so as seen earlier in the thread, would the normal CRB not show these due their age?

So I follow the Terry approach

  1. 22. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 931 posts) 10 Feb '11 09:46 | Quote
There is so much misinformation on this thread that it's mind boggling. Honestly, the situation between the UK and the US is not that complicated.
1.) Minor convictions are a complete non issue because (unlike Canada) the UK does NOT share its criminal database with the US, so for minor offences that didn't result in jail time simply forget they ever happened - this includes DUIs.
2.) For felonies with jail time it can be an issue because your conviction may end up on other databases like Interpol, etc. Get a pardon and clear your record before contacting any embassy or applying for any Visa - you do not want a permanent red flag on your file

Unlike incredulous Isadora!!

  1. 90. Posted by Isadora (Moderator, 13908 posts) 16 Nov '11 09:26 | Quote
Gracie12 - You were lucky and it all depended on the crime that was committed. The US & UK do share criminal records. There have been some TP members who have been sent back home on their own dime because of the shared information. It all comes down to the airport, number of people passing through immigration, the immigration person and the severity of your crime.

And agree with Mike

  1. 68. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3294 posts) 9 Jul '11 09:56 | Quote
Basically, the UK has not shared its criminal database with US Immigration. Immigration does not have your criminal record on their computer screen. It is a self reporting system.

What concerns me is the confidence of this!
87. Posted by beoger (Inactive, 3 posts) 22 Oct '11 09:09 | Quote
travellers must understand the us customs do not have access to uk criminal records,that is a fact,finger printing in the us airports are for there own databases trust me i know this from the horses mouth, and passports only hold information about you not your criminal record,if you are a major terrorist or a dangerous criminal on the run that will flag up but thats every airport around the world not just the us.
- Maktooms horse perhaps!

I applied and got approval for both my UK and my wifes Dutch ESTA application. However her passport ran out and she went to renew it at the UK Dutch consulate last week. I got the email from ESTA that her application needs renewing as I presumed that new passport details could be reentered for the same person without another fee! - Joke!

And that's when I found you all here! On refreshing our ESTA status page I reviewed my application and panicked! But that's not the issue.

My fingerprints were taken 15 years ago, and even if the convictions are spent - surely they're in some fancy database at US Customs - why else would we give our prints so readily?

  1. 143. Posted by anthill80 (First Time Poster, 1 posts) 22 Mar '12 14:43 | Quote
When i was arrested in 2001 in the UK the police showed me the computer system sending my fingerprints to Nevada to a private company which holds the UK fingerprint database - this is how i guess they pick up any fingerprinted offence - my fingerprints were scans when i was arrested in UK.

Why is Dacar in previous posts so emphatic when he says - 'Drugs are Bad' - Big No No in the US! - No Chance!

  1. 188. Posted by dacar007 (Budding Member, 4 posts) 3 Jun '12 01:41 | Quote
if you have been arrested, fingerprint scanned and convicted and you tick NO on your ESTA form, then most likely you will be turned away at the us border, questioned and sent back eventually. no doubt about it. BUT, us and uk DO SHARE criminal conviction fingerprints through US-VISIT programme. Trust me, I know it.

Why was my wife's fingerprints taken on her Dutch passport renewal only last week! - This shocked me as maybe we're all stuffed now!

My main issue is I'm the Best Man to my mate getting married in California and he doesn't know! Tragic Comedy!- trying to organize a stag do from the UK and I'll probably get rejected , hopefully talk my way out of 6 months prison or a fine or both - or not, for another crime on the ESTA and give a virtual speech online!

I presume that Freedom of Info will only get worse and somehow, like the fingerprints, every agency will know what's what!

Roll the dice! I've got to really! there's no other way to even have a chance - I presume, with a Controlled Substance conviction - even if it appears spent or otherwise!

Are there any up to date articles or info on the 'Fingerprint issue'?
I wish everyone who has got through or not at the US Border control would post there experiences back here but with a classification of their past crimes so that we can table the results.

If it all goes tit's up now I will probably never be able to take our kids across the pond - Yosemite, Florida, NYC, which really hurts, again with the guilt (to my family) of foolish times to unfairly last a lifetime!

Does anyone know about that second skin liquid for cuts etc and how that affects the whorls???? - What about 007 style stick on fingerprints?

Thanks in anticipation of any useful replies and encouragement for what I am about to do!

[ Edit: Edited on 09-May-2013, at 19:41 by Eyespy ]

443. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Eyespy, hats off to you for actually reading the thread and not posting yet another boring query that has been answered over and over and over...

If you ever get to Alberta (or Cuba) then please drop me a line, the first 20 cocktails will be on me.

All the best to you, sir.


444. Posted by Eyespy (Budding Member 10 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Morning Mr T,

Ever Faithful, Ever Sure!

I got so stuck into it last night!

Even when I got to bed 4 hours ago I rehearsed the scenario at Immigration with mind control over the Officer and all was good!

So not much sleep...... my patients will understand when I explain!

My wife is very understanding... If all fails, after I'm released, I can get back to relieve the mother-in-law looking after the kids. Simples!

"..but don't worry honey, you'll talk them round,...I'm sure?" she says!

See you up the Athabasca Glacier and then for a nice Mojito in Holguin my friend!
I bet Christopher Columbus never had these problems!


445. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!


Safe travels.


446. Posted by Eyespy (Budding Member 10 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Please accept my apologies for the length of my earlier post #425, however, considering that this thread is 7 years old, I needed to condense the pertinent points for myself and further release my inner repressions - this faceless forum thing is very cathartic!

Humbly, I am requesting any guidance for latest bonafide information on Fingerprint data and which agencies I could enquire of anonymously.

Upon reflection of my late night diatribe listed above I realise that I have completely dismissed my previous small trips to the USA!
I previously entered the USA in 1993 on a Hoover deal to NYC, 5 years after my first conviction for a Controlled substance, and denied all, and again defrauded the Immigration service by gaining entrance in 1995 and 2002.
I, as expected, denied all, basing my decision on, the Dice Man. However, this last trip in 2002 was post 9/11 and I sailed through, with more controlled substance convictions listed previously from 1998.
If currently, there is a fingerprint register, which covers my crimes from 1995 & 1998, then, surely I am liable to the fullest extent of the law, having entered illegally, on three prior occasions when I try later this June! Oops!
It states on the Unlocked article that twice is upto 2 years prison - what about 3 times!

Does anyone have any bonafide evidence of recent US border control denials with previous illegal entries and their outcomes?

My Gung Ho! I'll take the chance attitude is quickly rolling away like Echo beach!
What criteria would make them prosecute a non-celeb with a family and business in the UK wishing to enter for a short trip to a wedding in California!

Probably, just through lack of sleep, I had a vision of the future, restricting me from seeing family in London due to the newly positioned fingerprint and retinal check point at the M1 London Gateway Services!

Cheers to all!

447. Posted by anon0001 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hi all, just thought I'd post my experience with regards to the ESTA, Visa etc.

First, let me give a little background that may come in handy to someone in a similar situation:

I'm 23 years old.
Arrested at age 14 for criminal damage - received warning.
Arrested at age 15 for criminal damage - received reprimand.
Arrested at age 17 for possession of cocaine - received warning.
Arrested at age 17 for possession of cannabis - received warning.
Arrested at age 17 for possession of an offensive weapon - went to court and received referral order to a Youth Offending Team for 4 months (once a week, anger management and career building exercises).

You could say I was a little shit, and you'd probably be right. I was irresponsible in my younger years and didn't cope too well with my parents divorce.. but anyway, that's irrelevant. Just be assured I'm on a straight path now. ;)

A couple of months ago my girlfriend booked us a 2 week holiday in Florida, for this June. Unaware of the extent of my criminal history, she (nor I) had any idea some mistakes I made as a kid would make me illegible for the Visa Waiver Program.

I believed honesty was the best policy, so filled in the ESTA form accurately and honestly, to receive an automatic NO. It was only then that I spent days searching the net and learning about the ridiculously tedious, pricey process of applying for a Visa. I found this forum post (hence why I'm back), and after reading 100 pages or so, realised I should have just lied on the Esta form to save myself from all this hassle. But it was too late.. I even tried to resubmit the ESTA form and changed my answer to the question, but they obviously don't allow their data to be overwritten. Furthermore, this only happened 3 weeks ago... 7 weeks before I was due to fly! It was quite clear to me that, even if I managed to get the police certificate and everything else I needed, and get an interview with the embassy in time, that the charges on my record (especially drug related) would automatically put me in the 'pending' pile where I will probably wait 3-6 months for an answer.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had my visa interview this morning. We go to Florida in 4 weeks and I went there pretty certain I'm going to lose out on a £1400 holiday. At the counter, the guy was brutally firm and expressionless. He asked about my record.. asking details about why I used drugs, how I got caught, if I still use them etc. I advised him that I was as unlucky as I was irresponsible and got caught on my first and last use of them (true story). He went on to ask about the others, and then how often I drink and in what quantity. He told me that he had never seen someone with 3 or 4 possession charges that hadn't been to jail, and jokingly asked if I knew someone in the police force. He was silent for a minute, before telling me that he is going to approve my application, that I will receive it in 3-5 days, and to have a good day!

I was totally in awe and shock. I was expecting it to get declined at worst, or get thrown in the pending pile at best. I never expected it to be approved on the spot.

Anyway, just a little success story for others that don't want to risk lying on their ESTA application, or have already completed it, honestly, and been rejected. Perhaps I was just extremely lucky today, or perhaps the guy could see in my behavior that I am no longer a bad egg, and just a guy that wants to see the world and have a fulfilling life. I don't know. Florida here I come! ;)

TL;DR I was arrested 5 times including 2 drug related, visa got approved on the spot.

[ Edit: Edited on 15-May-2013, at 07:40 by anon0001 ]

448. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3580 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Thank you for sharing your story. I noticed that all your offenses occurred while you were under 18. Many countries seal juvenile records and do not count them again you. The US official knew these were juvenile offenses and a records search would not show your past arrests. Perhaps this is what happened here. Glad you were approved and I hope you enjoy your holiday in Florida.

449. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

anon0001 @ #430... as Mike points out above all your troubles happened when you were a juvenile, that means US CBP can't get their hands on the records so their computer screen remains blank. That coupled with a decent, common sense officer (there are more of them than you'd think) resulted in a pretty straightforward result.

You got (a little) lucky. Congrats.

Have a great trip.


450. Posted by hellothere66 (Budding Member 3 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

If he did a little research beforehand he would have seen that he could have honestly answered the esta and said no to his offences as they were committed under the age of 18 and the usa do not take this into account etc, i havent travelled to america YET, but i intend to and i am 23 and i have been charged a few times last time was only last year for something, and i got not guilty in court, before that it was all under the age of 18 so i am going to say no to criminal offences on the esta, and tbh customs will be looking for the bigger fish e.g - drug smugglers, kidnappers etc dont think they going to bother about a 23 year old with a petty breach of peace charge and assault that was found not guilty in the courts and i do have one for theft ( i was with someone) i didnt actually do it but got charged anyway and i only got a fine it doesnt go on my record etc. so im gna say no on form as only been charged 3x since i was 18 2 for assualt one which was found not guilty, 1 i didnt have to go to court for and the theft i got a fine and it didnt go to court niether did the first assualt, if i apply for visa il prob be effed and risking ti getting rejected in america because they approve it here fair enuf but they can still refuse it over in america .... Tskk

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