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BagginsHelp | 21:31 Sat 23rd Aug 2008 | Getting there
16 Answers
Hello, I am in a bit of a situation.

I had some convictions (Burglary, Assault) when i was 11 years old, I am now 30 years old. I always thought that these convictions, would be wiped clean after 5 years. I was given 30 hours community service as punishment. It was a one off thing, i got in with the wrong crowd at school, and paid the price.

I have had no convictions since then. I have been in the Royal Navy for 8 years, and it did not effect me signing up.

This past year i have been to the USA 3 times (2 weeks, 6 weeks, 2 weeks) visiting my girlfriend who lives over there. I entered under the Visa Waiver programme, and just ticked no for every option, and had no problems gaining entry. (Whats the purpose of your vist, how long is your stay,... have a nice day .. Stamp!!). I honestly did not know what Moral T.....tude ?? was when i got handed the form on the plane.

Now I am thinking of living and working out there, I would need to apply for a visa. Would i have to disclose those convictions from when i was 11 years old ? (19 years ago)? What happens when you apply for a visa ? Do they check your criminal record? And if so, how can they, as it is for UK police only.

What am i going to do? When i apply for a visa, they are going to see 3 US stamps in my passport, so if i declare i have a past criminal record then i am in trouble. one thing mind, i entered the US 4 times 2 years previous with my ship in the RN, and had no problems, as was not asked by my ship to sign anything visa wise.

I always wondered, how can the US govenment have access to the UK's Police files, other than interpol files?.


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what sort of visa will you be after? i only ask because it's very difficult for people from uk to get visas to work/live in the usa
Question Author
a perminant residency visa, also we are planning on getting married, so maybe the fiancee visa 1st.
i dont think there is such a thing as a fiancee visa is there? You have t be married at least as far as i'm aware
sorry, just looked on the website - you learn something new everyday!
Question Author
there is a fiancee visa. Once granted it allows you to enter the US for 3 months, but you must get married in the 3 months. If you don't then you must return to the UK.

I don't think i will ever be allowed back into the US again :(. My life is in tatters now.
(2-part post):

The first point has to be that, irrespective of any criminal record, most UK citizens can't emigrate to the USA. To do so, you generally either need to have close family members there or you need to have professional qualifications to masters degree level. (You could also get in if you'd got skills which are in short supply in the US. Given their rising levels of unemployment, very few people can get a residence visa via that route).

See here for further information about US immigrant visas: ndex.html

Next, a criminal record is for life. Within the UK, most criminal convictions become spent (for most purposes) after a certain period of time (which is defined by the sentence imposed). However, convictions never become spent when applying for employment which is exempted from the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. (e.g. when applying to work with children or vulnerable adults or for applications to join the police). Since the Act does not apply to foreign governments, convictions also never become spent when applying for visas to enter other countries.

See here for more information about the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act:

EU privacy laws prevent the UK government from making the UK database of criminal records available to other countries. They can only pass on specific information when there is 'justifiable cause'. So, in general, the US immigration authorities only know about people like convicted or suspected terrorists, drug smugglers, people-smugglers and child-sex tourists. However, the US authorities require all applicants for an immigrant visa to obtain a copy of their police record and submit it with their visa application: visa_iv.html#iv039
You're also required to obtain the relevant court records: visa_iv.html#iv043

There's a general page of relevant information here: add_crime.html
Note that, if you're found permanently ineligible for a visa, you can apply for a 'waiver of the permanent ineligibility' from the United States Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection. It's possible that (given that you were a minor at the time of the offences, and the length of time that has passed since then) this might be granted.

Chris, I don't think he'll have problems over using the VW to enter previously, as he was a minor when the crimes were commited, and there was no jail term, so he would have been eligible for the VW programme.

baggins: Getting a residency visa would be very difficult though. It's tough for anyone.
The fact you've kept out of trouble for years, and have served in the forces will be in your favour, but I'm pretty sure you'd have to declare the offences on the application.
The problem is they have so many applicants, they can't let everyone in.
You've entered and left several times without causing problems, so that's in your favour. Apply and fingers crossed.
there's always the option of settling in the UK, so keep your chin up.
Question Author
I know it is difficult getting over, We are intending to marry, so the K1 visa looks the best option.

My main worry is though, that i have entered the US a few times and not got a Visa ( I did not know i needed one, but i know thats not an excuse), now i would need to apply for a visa and they would see that i have entered the US before without one, and not declared my criminal record.

I am going to send off for the ACPO police check tomorrow and see what it says. I know it would be in my favour due to me being a minor at rhe time of conviction and my clean past since, Just worried though.

For the record, i have a BA in Computer Science behind me also 2:1.
why do you think you need a visa at all,when going to the states on the visa waiver,you get 90 days stay each time.why can you not do all you need to do in those peroids of time,even get married,you dont need a visa to get married over there,once you have got married,then apply for all the things you need,it will be a lot easier,a friend of mine was in the same situation,he just married her here in england went back to florida and was granted all the rights to stay and work,you are going about it the straight path,do what most people do and duck and dive through it.
Question Author
So i dont need a K1 visa to get married, i could do that on the VWP?. And then when i am married, i can apply for the Perminant recedency while i am in the US, so i might not need to get a visa are criminal record check in the UK if i am already in the US. Am i getting this right?

""Your fianc�(e) will need to enter the United States with a fianc�(e)
visa. Once admitted to the United States with a K-1 visa, your
fianc�(e) will be authorized to stay for 90 days during which you are
permitted to marry. As soon as you marry, your spouse may apply
for permanent residence by filing a Form I-485, Application to
Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, and mailing it to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
P.O. Box 805887
Chicago, IL 60680-4120""
rules and regs,what about people who marry on impulse,etc

if you do it by the book,it could take yrs.
Question Author
so i can go over and marry on the VWP and keep ticking no. and then apply for perminant residency while i am in the states, the day after i am married ?/
you didn't need a visa to enter before, as your 'crime' was commited as a minor.

I entered the states in 93 on honeymoon. I'd been arrested in 84 for being drunk and too lippy to a PC.
Didn't know about the Visa situation and entered via the VW. (which was actually fine)
I went back last year, this time with the kids and was really worried about that �30 fine all those years ago stopping me getting in, and letting the kids down, so applied for a visa.
I had to declare previous entries, which I did, and was worried they'd ask about not having a visa previously.
The interview took 5mins, and the only question I was asked about the pevious visit was 'did I love Disneyland'.

There's so much confusion over the VW scheme and moral turpitude. Thing is, you entered correctly before - your crime was as a minor.
Don't panic
Question Author
It's sounding better

I was actually thinking of Loosing my passport, and then applying for a new one, which would have no stamps in, and then applying for a visa.

So much hassle
I'm in teh same situation here as well...

I am now 24 years old. When i was 11, i was arrested for shoplifting (a f***** parker pen from WH Smith - i am so embarrassed) and was mugshotted and fingerprinted.

I am now travelling to the USA in december and i really panicked over the weekend. I've decided to get a police certificate and i am hopeful that it will come back as "NO TRACE." However, if it comes back with details, do i hav eto apply for a visa, despite the fact I was a minor?

Have i been stupid by pretty much decalring my arrest when i was 11!!


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