Entering the US and Canada with convictions

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mattieb | 13:12 Tue 15th Jan 2008 | Travel
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hi im planning a trip to the US and Canada, When i was a little younger i got into a little trouble with the law, nothing to major, fighting in public, disorderly behavoiur, assault and the most serious Unlawfully getting into motor vehicile, i know i was a little;) stupid back then but all these were at the bottom end of the scale and was only give small fines, my life has completely changed and have not been into any more trouble for over 5year, Im from new zealand and because of these convictions i can not get the visa wavier and have to apply for one, My question is "What are my changes" Just so i can save my time and money if its going to be 100% No? cheers all


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this gets asked about once a week, if only the search engine was good enough to produce earlier answers for you. Anyway... basically (if I've understood other answers correctly myself), if you don't apply for a visa you get a visa waiver form to fill out on the plane (I'm not sure if you're travelling from NZ, but it shouldn't matter)

it asks if you have been arrested for crimes involving drugs or moral turpitude. It doesn't sound as if you have. So you could fill out the form, tick No to everything, and have no further trouble.

So I wouldn't bother applying for a visa, as you would probably have to admit everything and be left at the mercy of whichever official you were talking to. Just fly in and fill out the form, and have a great trip.
Theoretically, you can't enter Canada until you've been granted 'rehabilitation': sibility.asp

However, New Zealand passport holders don't require a visa to enter Canada: isa.htm
so you shouldn't have any problems entering the country if you simply keep quiet about your convictions.

New Zealand passport holders (without convictions) can enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program: out_1990.html#countries
However, as you realize, your convictions render you ineligible for this, so you're meant to apply for a visa.

Only the US authorities can give a definitive answer as to whether you'd be granted a visa but I would think that it's extremely unlikely. (For example, I've seen a post on AB where someone was refused a visa because of two convictions for driving with no insurance). The US authorities tend to regard multiple offences extremely seriously. (If you'd committed your offences in New Jersey, where they operate a 'three strikes rule' you might currently be serving a prison sentence of between 10 years and life. The immigration authorities would look at your offences as if they were committed in the USA, not in the UK or New Zealand).

However, the US authorities have no direct access to the criminal records of any other country (except Canada, with whom they share a common database). If you're prepared to lie on the Visa Waiver form, you should be able to get into the USA without difficulty.

And for Canada you won't even have to lie - they just do not ask routine tourists about this sort of thing
I'd say you have no chance of getting a visa. But you can see for yourself how an embassy might view an application, because they base their decision on their Foreign Affairs Manual. 942.pdf

The above section defines Moral Turpritude... you'll see a few of your past misdeeds included.
i was in a similar situation allthough im from uk not nz {1 recent conviction for public order} but went to jfk just before new year and nothing was mentioned at all , i didnt realise i needed a visa until i returned home but now have the worry that if i ever go again would i get visa having entered on vwp
You might be able to enter illegally on the Visa Waiver, but having been given the 3rd degree (by which I mean taken for 'secondary inspection') by USCBP on about a six occasions, I can tell you if they find you have lied on the VW form you are in for a bad time. They don't do cuddly-UK justice, after harrowing interrogations, you'll be on the 1st plane out.

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