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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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841. Posted by amenicycinema (Budding Member 22 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

hi travelman. the main thing with my situation was that my arrest was in the usa - for possession of marijuana when I was living there in 2003/4. I got what they called a "conditional discharge" - paid a fine and went to probation for drug testing. since then I went back to the US on an esta approx 7 times without any problems but then last year was refused entry at JFK (first time flying into there so maybe they're stricter?) so started the waiver process.

had to gather the police certificate and all paperwork I could find from the original ocident etc then went to the embassy. they have a dept that deals with people who have a record and it look much longer to be seen than everyone else but quick interview & looked through all paperwork. they were impressed i had everything very organised so that might help to keep them happy!

the agent you see at the embassy can either recommend you for a waiver or not, if they don't then i don't know what the next stage would be. they send everything off (you keep your passport though) and give you a letter but you can't track the application at all, you just wait to hear from them. 24 weeks was estimated & it took pretty much exactly that. they sent me an email saying "more supporting paperwork required" and I thought they needed more forms and would have to wait even longer, but when I read the email properly it was asking for my passport to be couriered in so they could put the visa in. this took about another week then you can get your passport couriered back or collect it in london.

once I had the waiver I was able to travel to america last year again but they did take me to have a quick interview at immigration when I landed to check what happened and prove I had a job etc to go back to after the holiday. they also had an immigration desk connected to check-in at the UK airport and they knew from scanning my passport that there was some sort of issue but couldn't comment on whether I'd be let in once I got to America.

one thing I found when I was refused entry was that Virgin Atlantic were rwlly helpful with passing messages to my partner who was waiting at baggage claim (not allowed phones in the immigration room they keep you in) and also helped with flying my partner back once I had been returned to the UK. I don't know if a smaller airline would have dedicated liaison staff like this and I really did find it so helpful having a friendly face to help when immigration officers were very unfriendly!

If anyone has any other questions I'm happy to help because I know how stressful it was for me trying to get it all sorted out at the time!

842. Posted by Mike1990 (Budding Member 15 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Hey amenicycinema,

you say they were impressed by how organised you were, what other documents did you take with you other than the DS-160, ACRO and The Personal Data Form (VCU1)

Thanks, Mike.

843. Posted by amenicycinema (Budding Member 22 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

I think the main other things were all the original paperwork from the arrest/probation etc in the US, lucky i kept them all this time! I also had proof of my work, home, car etc in the UK just in case they wanted to see I would definitely not plan to overstay once i got into America.

844. Posted by Redshoes70 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Hi Terry it seems your the man to talk to, I have a criminal record from 1992 for abh got a fine. What do you recommend I do about an esta or a visa ? We are travelling July this year . Thanks in advance

845. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

I've posted this countless times:

As has been stated ad nauseam throughout this thread under normal circumstances the US can't access the general criminal databases from the UK. The only database they have direct access to is Canada. So under normal circumstances forget the offence ever happened, you should face no issues whatsoever.

That said, nothing is ever guaranteed.


[ Edit: Edited on 15-Feb-2015, at 14:14 by CheersT ]

846. Posted by sillymistake (Budding Member 3 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

What are the different visa types and in what situations would you need them.

So far I've heard of:
Waiver of admissibility

Any others?

As mentioned before I've a caution for possession of class A, and would like to go to the US for two reasons;
Holiday with family
Through work for a week or two.


[ Edit: Edited on 18-Feb-2015, at 13:23 by sillymistake ]

847. Posted by mod18 (Budding Member 6 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Hi iv noticed on here that there isn't any story of people getting denied entry for having a criminal record. Also is there any one who has travelled and been successful after they have been to prison it would be appreciated.

848. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

As usual with almost all questions regarding Visas you fail to mention the single most important piece of information: Your nationality.

You also don't mention which country you're travelling to or what kind of convictions you have or when they happened.

That said I'll assume you're from the UK in which case read Reply #845.


849. Posted by anonymous15 (Budding Member 8 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Firstly let me say CheersT (excuse the pun),

I have read through this entire thread. Let me say it has been very useful. Basically in 2012 I was found guilty of a copyright offence, complete joke the whole thing but hey ho. Was given a 6 month sentance suspended for 2 years, with community service.

I have got a new job and have the chance to fly out to our san francisco office, I am from the UK.

So yes, I have read your post 22 :) and agree. My real question is, is a copyright offence classed as a serious offence or not? I am sure it is likely not but who knows.. I have googled it but cant find much information on it :(

I will be gutted if I say I dont want to go but dont want to make things worse and get rejected... I guess CheersT you are the guy in the know so its good to see you are still here! And fingers crossed you reply :)

850. Posted by CheersT (Inactive 2578 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

First of all, I truly feel for you if you did indeed read this entire ridiculous thread. It's a shame it can't be edited down from the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of utter crap posts to the basic core of 40 or 50 posts that actually have serious, believable, first hand experience and accurate info.

With no criminal code reference I have no clue what a copyright offence might be so I can't venture a guess how the nutbars at US CBP will view the offence, but it sounds harmless.

That said, when a trip involves work and not a simple tourist holiday it's always better to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and get the paperwork in place. I have a feeling the US Embassy official will laugh it off and rubber stamp your request, but who knows. They're becoming more and more unpredictable and illogical.

Good luck.


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