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Using ESTA with a spent criminal record

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biologist | 19:52 Sat 29th Aug 2009 | Criminal
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Hi, I've got a past conviction from seven years ago which is now "spent" under UK law but not US law. It was nothing too serious(simple possession of class A-cocaine) and only received a small fine for I understand that any arrests, convictions etc have to be revealed to the US. I've been searching high and low to try and uncover some info on this. People have said "yes" you shoud declare but others' have said just forget about it and tick NO on the form. I'm an honest person so I'd like to think but I've been worried sick about having to go and explain myself at the embassy. Yesterday I filled in the ESTA form and I was granted authorisation to travel to the states. Surely if they knew I wasn't eligable to travel under the VWP then they'd have told me not to go instead of basically saying "yes come but we will just turn you back when you land". Seems pointless and a waste of time in my eyes. What I want to know is if the US have full access to the police national computor and the UK fingerprint database? I don't think for one second that they have instant access to this at all. Takes weeks to get a CRB check in the UK, plus they need your signature on any CRB request form. I'd like to think that they had a database of potential threats, dangerous people, human/drug traffickers and terrorists etc. Because I'm decent and like to do the right thing I'm just thinking of going to London to the get the VISA. One more thing, when they do take your prints at the airport I've been told it's just to get prints of all entrants just incase they commit crime in the US, which would make sense. I know lying on the ESTA is wrong in itself but I've been that stressed that I thought f**k it I need to know what the response would be. Any thoughts or info on this would be great. Many thanks.


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Lets just clarify a few things.

In the eyes of US immigration you have a class A drug conviction and any drug conviction is a big no no to US immigration - especially class A's. I can pretty much guarrentee you will be denied a visa. Best case scenario is the consular official recommends a waiver of ineligibily. Perhaps because the conviction was some time ago - this will be sent to the homeland security for evaluation.

Secondly I doubt you answered the ESTA questions honestly as you suggest. If you had answered Yes to the questions about Crimes involving Moral Turpitude then you most likely would have been told to apply for a visa. A drug offence is a Crime involving Moral Turpitude.

Thirdly US immigration DO NOT have direct access to the PNC but what they do have is an agreement with their UK counterparts to share information. Therefore you fill out ESTA and they have 72 hours to ask the UK for information about you. You won't know until you arrive at the Port of Entry if you've been lucky to get through the net.

And finally the primary reason for taking the prints at Port of Entry is to ensure that you are who you say you are. ie you were Mahommad last time and now your Dave.

The risk is all yours not only for this trip but all future trips - best of luck.

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