getting a visa for holiday in us with criminal record

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pollyfenton | 12:44 Thu 05th Apr 2007 | Travel
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I am 40, and wish to visit the us in july for a 2week holiday. i was arrested when i was 17, and convicted of handling of stolen goods, failiure to attend court on 5 occaisions, and then attempted theft of petrol when i was 18. since then i have lived totally within the law, other than have one speeding conviction (2 yrs ago). i am a qualified teacher and have been in continuous employment for nearly 14 years. am i likely to be granted a visa?


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this comes up a lot; but I'd be very surprised if the US has any records dating back 22 years. In that case I wouldn't even bother applying for a visa, just fill out the visa waiver form they give you on the plane and forget your distant past. (Incidentally, if you're going to ask this sort of question on the internet, it might be an idea to find a username that isn't your real name. Perhaps you have, of course; but any immigration officer wanting to research the history of PF might google you.) Good luck.
i agree with jno, i would just fill in the visa waiver. youll be absolutely fine
It is asked a lot, but the importance is in determining whether a crime counts as Moral Turpitude, and hence whether or not you can enter on the Visa Waiver Scheme. Theft is Moral Turpitude, so the VWS is not a legitimate option.

Though as others have said, there would appear to be little chance of problems occuring if you do seek to use the VWS.

p.s. I think you could need to speak to a solicitor specialising in US Visas to get a definitive answer on whether your record would mean the Embassy would not give you a visa. Exactly how the embassy arrive at a decision is not exactly published info. to my knowledge. The age of, nature, and number of crimes are taken into account.

pps. I suggest you read this bit of the US Foreign Affairs Manual here... aN.pdf
... Interestingly I see it says crimes, *including* those involving Moral Turpitude do not render you ineligible for a visa, if they were committed prior to the age of 18.
Question Author
thank you, just scanned through a fair bit of the info at end of link.Oh my god!! i had no idea what i did was moral turpitude. unfortunately the attempted theft of petrol was when i was 18 and 4 months. this is so frustrating, nothing is stated on my CRB(criminal record beureau) check now for teaching jobs as it is considered not important, and in teaching nothing is ever 'spent'.it's just that i have prooved myself to be an upright citizen with nothing dodgey since the dodgey bit.
ps. thanks for other replies and tips .
Question Author
pps. can anyone give me examples of people with similar records to mine who have applied for us visa please? and outcome, of course.
What I found, while applying for a visa, is that the Embassy staff have some discretion. The instructions on the embassy website are pretty alarming in their precise-ness, and seek to 'cover all the bases' and worse case scenarios, but the staff themselves on the day are much more human in general.

So the fact you were 18 *and four months* could in the event mean this issue is ignored as well.

Word of warning though. I read a long thread on an Australian travel website, where a youth had 'borrowed' a forklift after a night out to go on a short joy-ride, and damaged a wall. Later he applied for a US visa, and was denied, and told to re-apply in five years time if he still wanted one. When speaking to the embassy on the phone he said he got briefly angry and rude, and was then told not to reapply for at least ten years!

If putting yourself before the embassy, I'd suggest doing your research, going for full disclosure, (and keeping your cool).

... It would be fascinating to hear what records people have, and still been granted visas.

I have a DUI/DWI charge from early 90's, my age then mid-20's (charged in the US), and have entered on the visa waiver scheme many times, with immigration fully aware of that charge. Though DUI/DWI is not moral turpitude.

I decided to get a visa recently, the DUI/DWI was questioned, but apart from having to jump through additional hoops (forms) it did not seem to have delayed issuing the visa.
Agree with jno just fill out the visa waiver fom on plane, my record is about on par with yours and must admit the first time i visited florida i got a little worried like you but been 3 times now and no probs
And how did you get caught stealing petrol i used to nick the number plates of a car simaler to mine then stick them on my car so they could not trace me then fill up an do runner.
But like you I have grown up now I think......
you'll get a visa if you apply sharpish.

I had a 'minor' arrest for obstruction back in 1984.
I decided to play safe and apply for a visa.

If you've already got the police access statement, then you're half-way there (mine showed clear too by the way).
I spent 2 hours at the embassy - only 4 mins of this was the interview. They're friendly, will ask you about your trip, and 'details of your last offence'. Bearing in mind your good job now, and how long ago the 'crime' was, it won't be a problem. If it was drugs it'd be a different kettle of fish.
The interview will be in about 6-8 weeks, and I had my visa 3 days later.
Your only problem will be if the CRB statement's old - if you need a recent one, they can take 40 days.

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getting a visa for holiday in us with criminal record

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