Entering Florida With A Old Coviction?

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ireallywannago | 14:03 Wed 11th Sep 2013 | Travel
17 Answers
Hi all, I was wondering if you could help? I had a conviction back in 2002 for theft with a 6mth custodial sentence-serving 6 weeks. I've planned a holiday to Florida for October 2014, but before I got talking to the family about it, I done my esta visa application online and where it asked about convictions I said no as my conviction is now spent. So I thought all was well and me and the family started talking about it and we have planned everything and sorted everything so we went ahead and booked our flights and deposit for villa ready for next year. I came across something about the esta being Exempt from the spent convictions? OH MY GOD, now I'm really worried that I've done something wrong, I must apply for a visa now, but I'm really worried that they won't let me go and my family's dream holiday will be stopped, and my kids will be devastated. My kids don't know about my conviction? (Partner do). When I apply for the visa I will explain to them in the interview that I said no on my esta cos my conviction was spent but it wasn't until after I read that the esta includes spent convictions. What do you think my chances are of even getting a visa to go for 2 weeks to florida.


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This type of question comes up regularily .

The UK'S system of spent convictions is not recognised by the US authorities.

You will find that you will almost certainly be refused entry
I know people that have been to prison and have got a one time only visa to go to the States. It has been mooted that the authorities there have no access to our records so they wouldn't know you had any convictions or not, don't know how true this is mind and I'm certainly not advocating that you do this. So, you could wing it and keep your fingers crossed or you can fess up and apply for a visa and hopefully be accepted.

A friend did it and it's not for the fainthearted, infact they said they'd never apply again ;)

Good luck whatever you choose.
I'm amazed no related threads are appearing under this question, it must be the most asked on AB
Question Author
I am going to apply the proper way, the the embassy in London, but was wondering what are my chances of getting a visa just for them 2 weeks, I have had an email of esta telling my to apply for a new esta and change the anser
good luck - i dont know which part of Florida your'e going - i guess it's the Orlando area .

It is certainly a destination that's in the top half of my holiday destinations
-- answer removed --
As has been suggested above, the US authorities have no direct access to UK criminal records. (EU privacy laws are meant to prevent such information being passed on). However it's almost certain that a great deal of information is passed on under the guise of 'preventing terrorism' (even when that information doesn't actually relate to terrorists activities). So you'd be extremely unwise to try to enter the USA with an ESTA.

US law automatically bars anyone who has ever been convicted of an offence of 'moral turpitude' (which includes theft) from entering their country. So, in the first instance, the US Embassy would have no alternative but to refuse you a visa. However your request could then be referred to Washington as an application for a 'waiver of permanent ineligibility'. The process is extremely long, with a minimum wait of around 5 months from the start of the application process. (The longest wait I've seen reported on this site was one of 15 months from someone with two convictions for driving without insurance. His application was refused). So you need to start your application NOW! See here:

While the US authorities don't recognise the UK's Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, the passage of time will almost certainly be an important factor in any decision. (I've read of people being told that they needed to wait 10 years from the end of a sentence in order to stand a chance of acceptance). So there's probably quite a good chance of you eventually getting a visa as long as you act PROMPTLY.

you've already told them you filled the form out wrongly? In that case I wouldn't advise just forgetting about it.

I don't know your chances; these things can depend on what side people got out of bed. It may also depend on how long since the conviction: 12 years is a fair time and they may think you're no longer a threat. But I would have thought there's a chance you'll be refused, so you might need to be prepared for that.
The convictions of the people who got accepted were

Numerous for fighting, a one time visit visa
Fraud (against a bank). a one time visit visa
Pinching a car. a 10 year visa
Fighting. a 10 year visa

All convictions were over 15 years before the date the visas were applied for.
Have you got one or two short questions you want to ask? I`m going to the us embassy at the beginning of Oct and I could ask. I can`t do the whole scenario as I expect they`ll be pushed for time but I could ask one or two simple ones while I`m there.
Question Author
Well I hve email the embassy aswel, to see it is worth me even trying? If they say no, I won't bother, if they say to try then I will go the proper channels.
the holiday doesn't need to be stopped ... they could go without you!
do not go to the US embassy if you have already put no on an application you have lied to them and they will say no. Your conviction is spent plead ignorance if you get stopped, I know plenty of people who have been to US with convictions much more recent than yours. Personally I would not inform them, but for gods sake do not start acting nervous and jittery as you go thru immigration they do look out for body language, just be a normal dad with the family.
Dee if he/she's already told them why the ESTA was wrongly completed in the email, it could flag up on any new one that's applied for, it'll probably get denied and a VISA will have to be sought anyway.


//the holiday doesn't need to be stopped ... they could go without you! //

oh , bednobs , bednobs , bednobs .

i know you wouldn't want to, but faced with a choice of a holiday that can't be cancelled without losing money, and "devestated" children (op's words, not mine) or just going without him, there is always a choice!
rocky you are right, apologies irw the damage is already done, you will have to go thru with the interview, I hope it all comes out okay.

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