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Travelling from the UK to the USA with a criminal record

wiskey

Albatross Admirer
Ok, slight curve ball on the usual query, I probably know the answer anyway but thought I’d get some opinions. No actual plans to visit the US in the near future but I’m just curious, anyway...

About 18 years ago I got into a brawl outside a pub, I ended up getting convicted for Assualt, Affray and assaulting a police officer.

It’s one of those that sounds a lot worse than it actually was, but I appreciate it is what it is on paper. A guy actually mistook me for one of my mates who he’d got into a fight with, the police had been called and he just decided to wander over and wallop me one in front of them. As they went to restrain him I jumped up and made several attempts to hit him, in the process I apparently struck one of the officers. I was advised to plead not guilty, it went to court three times and I eventually got found guilty.

Anyway my stupid GF at the time insisted I get a visa for a trip to New York we had planned shortly afterwards, against my better judgement I went to the Embassy and got a one year visa granted. We then didn’t even end up going as we split up.

Fast forward 18 years, I’ve never been to the US.. but you never know, I may want to at some point.

I really don’t fancy going through all the visa stuff again after so long, I appreciate I’ve given all my details to them in the past, all be it nearly 20 years ago.. my crimes didn’t result in significant damage to property or people, I’d be inclined just to rock up (if I ever decide to go) and take my chances based on the length of time that’s elapsed.

So impossible as it would be for anyone to possibly know, what do we reckon the chances are of something flagging up regarding my previous visa application and/or my details in general so far down the line? And my chances of blagging my way in if it does get flagged up?
I'm not sure I can see how this is a different query :confused: you have a conviction, this still applies:

and again

1) If you declare, you are fucked off from the US for life
2) if you dont declare, then you (it would seem from anecdotal evidnce on here and elsewhere... ) be quite likely get in. If not, you get a free trip home. and are fucked off from the US for life.
 

skyscraper101

0891 50 50 50
Also, worth remembering that you can do the whole US immigration thing in Dublin or Shannon if you really paranoid and want to save the hassle of flying 7+ hours to America to find out your fate.

Massive bonus not having to go through immigration on the other side, I can tell thee.
 

chrism1990

New Member
I've been in and out a few times now, fortunately with no problems, I too was worried before my first trip and read this thread entirely, the advice on here is the best you will ever find, it gave me the confidence to go for it. Upto now the only people I've seen pulled to one side at immigration are Chinese families and lone travellers.
Yea this thread is awesome some great advice, I’m definitely going for it. I have 2 arrests from 6 years ago one for wounding with intent and another for gbh, Wounding with intent got dropped, gbh went to court and I got a not guilty. If you actually sit and think about it for them to know every crime committed in the 37 countries in the waiver program by every person it just sounds ridiculous. Imagine the carnage at customs :D.

Also there’s a lot of people on this thread who have joined not read the thread asked the same question then not even bothered to report back on how their trip went which I think is really disrespectful to the forum.

I’m going to be following this thread until I travel and will report back to contribute to the forum.

Also thanks to the people who have reported back and to the members for offering advice. Also 1927 has been posting on this thread since 2006 which is fucking awesome:)
 

2hats

Ключ на старт
Also, worth remembering that you can do the whole US immigration thing in Dublin or Shannon if you really paranoid and want to save the hassle of flying 7+ hours to America to find out your fate.

Massive bonus not having to go through immigration on the other side, I can tell thee.
See post 1851.
 

DickTurpitude

New Member
Well, if it was just the convictions then I wouldn’t be on here and worrying about US immigration knowing about stuff that happened 17 years ago. There is just simply no way they would know as evidenced by everyone’s experience on here.

What’s different about by query and something that after extensive reading of this thread I can’t see has ever come up, is me having applied for a visa 17 years ago and how likely that info would be connected to me now.
 

existentialist

Fabulous shoes
Well, if it was just the convictions then I wouldn’t be on here and worrying about US immigration knowing about stuff that happened 17 years ago. There is just simply no way they would know as evidenced by everyone’s experience on here.

What’s different about by query and something that after extensive reading of this thread I can’t see has ever come up, is me having applied for a visa 17 years ago and how likely that info would be connected to me now.
The simple response has to be - if you've told them about your convictions, even 17 years ago, then you probably need to assume that they still have that information, and that - theoretically - they can link it to you when you arrive.

So, if you complete a visa waiver, and they check their records (which, presumably, they can do), they're going to see you lied on the waiver. I imagine that will be enough to present a severe risk of deportation.

But you disclosed that information and got a visa - so why not just apply for one this time?
 

chrism1990

New Member
From my understanding from the us customs and border control website American citizens and eligible visa waiver program travellers can use the APC kiosks.

You go to them and do the questions and the biometric bullshit then you get a receipt.

Does anyone know if you can use these if it’s your first time in the states? Iv been before but when I was 9 and that was when the passports didn’t have the chips and the waiver was filled out on the plane so I’m guessing I’ll be classed as a first time traveller.

Iv read on this thread that people say you can only use them if you’ve been to the states before but the website suggests otherwise.
 
From my understanding from the us customs and border control website American citizens and eligible visa waiver program travellers can use the APC kiosks.

You go to them and do the questions and the biometric bullshit then you get a receipt.

Does anyone know if you can use these if it’s your first time in the states? Iv been before but when I was 9 and that was when the passports didn’t have the chips and the waiver was filled out on the plane so I’m guessing I’ll be classed as a first time traveller.

Iv read on this thread that people say you can only use them if you’ve been to the states before but the website suggests otherwise.
Theres 2 queues at the airports, there's the first time esta que where you pass through the border control booth and have your fingerprints and eyes scanned

Then the other que is for esta returning arrivals, you use the little kiosks, answer some questions have your photo taken then get a ticket, you then que up again to pass through a border control booth! If theres a couple or more in your party usually only one of you has to do the fingerprint check passing through, the rest just have their passports stamped and off you go.

That's how it's been for us the last few times.
 

Pauliewalnuts

New Member
I have never had any desire to travel to the USA, it’s just never appealed to me. However, back in January this year my wife booked for me and her to go to NYC in November.


A few years ago, I had a stupid moment and got done for drink driving (and leaving the scene and failing to report an accident). From what I’d heard I always thought that meant I needed to get a Visa to enter the USA and so, earlier this year I applied to receive a copy of my police record from ACRO.


I was pretty surprised when it arrived that, along with the previously mentioned, there was also details of an arrest for battery although the outcome was “no further action”. This was with an ex girlfriend and nothing really happened - we were both drunk, had a row and she ended up calling the police. I was pretty sure I was arrested for breach of the peace as the PO said it was to diffuse the situation. Even though it said unconditional release, I didn’t think it looked to clever along with my DUI incident.


Of course, added to the confusion is the old “moral turpitude” definition (even though this isn’t explicitly referred to anymore) - I’m pretty sure that DUI isn’t an offence but what about failing to report and, particularly, battery - even though I was only arrested for this, as previously mentioned.


I decided the Visa route was my only option but with it still being 9 months until we were going there was no rush. As the months rolled by and the summer holiday had to be paid off and spending money saved, still no application submitted as the cost (applying and getting down to London) isn’t exactly insignificant. Fast forward to October - shit, I think it’s too late! If I applied now, the combination of waiting for an appointment and then waiting for the return of a successful application meant that, at best, it was touch and go or, in all likelihood, I’d left it too late.


There was no option - I would have to apply for an ESTA. I hoped for some reassurance from Google - “Esta with a criminal record” brought up the same results, need a B1/B2 Visa not eligible for VWP. As I had no option, I submitted our application and, within an hour, had a response that authorisation was approved. This didn’t really give me comfort though, I always thought that was a given (I obviously selected no for the ‘moral turpitude’ question).


No, I would have to spend the next month fretting about that moment when the Border official scans your passport, checks his screen and then gives you that look. I kept trying to convince myself and what was the worst that could happen? I’m refused entry and can’t go - big deal, I never wanted to go anyway! But it wasn’t just me, the wife is there too of course. So probable divorce as well - I was starting to hope that I would be refused entry :D


As the days passed I kept trying different google searches and eventually found this forum - and my whole perspective changed. I didn’t read all the old pages but I didn’t need to - just reading a few of the more recent ones convinced my I’d be fine, I wasn’t hoping to be admitted, I was now expecting it! Don’t get me wrong, as we departed the plane at JFK and started to queue in the immigration hall, at the back of my mind doubts were creeping in but what the hell, be confident and go for it....


...2 hours later I’m writing this sat here in departures waiting to jump back on the same plane back to Blighty after been declined entry whereas the wife has gone off on her own and left me to it. Oh well!!


No, only kidding of course. We flew last Friday and arrived back in the UK this morning. On arrival at JFK we went it to the line for first time ESTA arrivals - we did not use the machines and went straight to the immigration official (after a better than expected 45 minute wait). The guy seemed cheerful enough - I went first then my wife. Questions were as previously stated - where we staying, why were we going (I was tempted to say that’s a bloody good question) and how much money did we have. Both passports stamped “admitted”, luggage was already stacked by the carousel and, within 2 hours of landing we were in our hotel in Manhattan.


Just to add, I personally found all the US Border Patrol staff relatively friendly - certainly compared to the TSA people you meet on departure, service with a smile it is not!!


Anyway, sorry for the long post but I wanted to give as much detail as possible to a) thank the people who have contributed to this thread and deserve people’s feedback and b) reassure anyone in a similar position to me that you should NOT apply for a visa and go for the ESTA.


PS, dare I say it, I actually enjoyed New York City but am looking forward to a summer holiday in a stress-free, visa-free European destination next summer......
 

existentialist

Fabulous shoes
I have never had any desire to travel to the USA, it’s just never appealed to me. However, back in January this year my wife booked for me and her to go to NYC in November.


A few years ago, I had a stupid moment and got done for drink driving (and leaving the scene and failing to report an accident). From what I’d heard I always thought that meant I needed to get a Visa to enter the USA and so, earlier this year I applied to receive a copy of my police record from ACRO.


I was pretty surprised when it arrived that, along with the previously mentioned, there was also details of an arrest for battery although the outcome was “no further action”. This was with an ex girlfriend and nothing really happened - we were both drunk, had a row and she ended up calling the police. I was pretty sure I was arrested for breach of the peace as the PO said it was to diffuse the situation. Even though it said unconditional release, I didn’t think it looked to clever along with my DUI incident.


Of course, added to the confusion is the old “moral turpitude” definition (even though this isn’t explicitly referred to anymore) - I’m pretty sure that DUI isn’t an offence but what about failing to report and, particularly, battery - even though I was only arrested for this, as previously mentioned.


I decided the Visa route was my only option but with it still being 9 months until we were going there was no rush. As the months rolled by and the summer holiday had to be paid off and spending money saved, still no application submitted as the cost (applying and getting down to London) isn’t exactly insignificant. Fast forward to October - shit, I think it’s too late! If I applied now, the combination of waiting for an appointment and then waiting for the return of a successful application meant that, at best, it was touch and go or, in all likelihood, I’d left it too late.


There was no option - I would have to apply for an ESTA. I hoped for some reassurance from Google - “Esta with a criminal record” brought up the same results, need a B1/B2 Visa not eligible for VWP. As I had no option, I submitted our application and, within an hour, had a response that authorisation was approved. This didn’t really give me comfort though, I always thought that was a given (I obviously selected no for the ‘moral turpitude’ question).


No, I would have to spend the next month fretting about that moment when the Border official scans your passport, checks his screen and then gives you that look. I kept trying to convince myself and what was the worst that could happen? I’m refused entry and can’t go - big deal, I never wanted to go anyway! But it wasn’t just me, the wife is there too of course. So probable divorce as well - I was starting to hope that I would be refused entry :D


As the days passed I kept trying different google searches and eventually found this forum - and my whole perspective changed. I didn’t read all the old pages but I didn’t need to - just reading a few of the more recent ones convinced my I’d be fine, I wasn’t hoping to be admitted, I was now expecting it! Don’t get me wrong, as we departed the plane at JFK and started to queue in the immigration hall, at the back of my mind doubts were creeping in but what the hell, be confident and go for it....


...2 hours later I’m writing this sat here in departures waiting to jump back on the same plane back to Blighty after been declined entry whereas the wife has gone off on her own and left me to it. Oh well!!


No, only kidding of course. We flew last Friday and arrived back in the UK this morning. On arrival at JFK we went it to the line for first time ESTA arrivals - we did not use the machines and went straight to the immigration official (after a better than expected 45 minute wait). The guy seemed cheerful enough - I went first then my wife. Questions were as previously stated - where we staying, why were we going (I was tempted to say that’s a bloody good question) and how much money did we have. Both passports stamped “admitted”, luggage was already stacked by the carousel and, within 2 hours of landing we were in our hotel in Manhattan.


Just to add, I personally found all the US Border Patrol staff relatively friendly - certainly compared to the TSA people you meet on departure, service with a smile it is not!!


Anyway, sorry for the long post but I wanted to give as much detail as possible to a) thank the people who have contributed to this thread and deserve people’s feedback and b) reassure anyone in a similar position to me that you should NOT apply for a visa and go for the ESTA.


PS, dare I say it, I actually enjoyed New York City but am looking forward to a summer holiday in a stress-free, visa-free European destination next summer......
You had me going for quite a long way in :mad::D:facepalm::hmm::thumbs:
 

benito1

New Member
This thread has been very useful and put me at ease, only have 1 minor conviction.

Just started filling in my ESTA and am unsure what to put for my employment information.

I have been a professional gambler for the past 2 and a half years since graduating from Uni. I'm not sure whether I should put that as my job title or lie and pretend I'm still a student as people often find it 'dodgy' so I wouldn't want the US to think I'm a bum with no job to return to.

Any ideas?

Thanks
 

DutchDog

New Member
I applied for an esta in 2008, and like an absolute clown I replied yes to the arrest question an was denied. Having been arrested for about a gram of weed in 2008, and again for about half a gram of sniff in 2013 anyone know my chances of a visa. I was not charged/fined or anything of the sort for either. I've since had a new passport with new passport number, is it worth trying for esta again and lying?
 

wiskey

Albatross Admirer
What happened last time when you admitted being arrested - after they denied you did you get a visa or not go?

Whilst they do not have access to the UK's criminal records system I'm fairly sure they are going to remember if they've turned you down for an ESTA before.
 

DutchDog

New Member
What happened last time when you admitted being arrested - after they denied you did you get a visa or not go?

Whilst they do not have access to the UK's criminal records system I'm fairly sure they are going to remember if they've turned you down for an ESTA before.
I didn't go, the posts I was reading at the time all seemed pretty negative. Just wondered if any one had had any success at an embassy/consulate meeting under similar circumstances
 

Chilli.s

mingling jets and statuettes
I didn't go, the posts I was reading at the time all seemed pretty negative. Just wondered if any one had had any success at an embassy/consulate meeting under similar circumstances
Yes some people with similar minor things have got visas after embassy meetings.
 

midriffwolf

New Member
Hi all,

First post here and after some advice please. I have read through a lot and I would guess the answer is going to be apply for an ESTA and say no to everything and I will be fine but thought I would check anyway.

Planning on taking the wife and kids to Florida in December 2021, so a long way off yet. However, I have a criminal record.

I have 2 making off without payments (filling up with petrol and driving off), 1 criminal damage and 1 for TWOC. These were all within a 2 month period and they were 21 years ago. No jail term served all dealt with by ways of fines.

So, would I get a visa if I applied correctly, or am I best to fill in an ESTA and hope for the best? This is a once in a lifetime holiday for the family and I really, really don't want to mess it up by getting refused at the US border.

Thanks.
 

editor

hiraethified
Hi all,

First post here and after some advice please. I have read through a lot and I would guess the answer is going to be apply for an ESTA and say no to everything and I will be fine but thought I would check anyway.

Planning on taking the wife and kids to Florida in December 2021, so a long way off yet. However, I have a criminal record.

I have 2 making off without payments (filling up with petrol and driving off), 1 criminal damage and 1 for TWOC. These were all within a 2 month period and they were 21 years ago. No jail term served all dealt with by ways of fines.

So, would I get a visa if I applied correctly, or am I best to fill in an ESTA and hope for the best? This is a once in a lifetime holiday for the family and I really, really don't want to mess it up by getting refused at the US border.

Thanks.
Say nothing and you'll be fine unless you go through customs sweating wildly, looking extremely shifty and shouting loudly to your partner, "Don't let them know about my convictions!"
 
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