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For anyone thinking of going to the USA but is afriad. JUST GO!!


For anyone thinking of going to the USA but is afriad. JUST GO!!

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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wandawall,

You are referring to the sections which relate to the Embassy making their decision at Visa Interview stage. These paragraphs do not allow people to travel under the VWP.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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Biologist,

I can completely understand why you have suggested what you have. However, to balance this out, I must point out that, if people were to follow your advice, people would be committing a criminal offence under US Immigration Law. That is not something that can be taken lightly.

I saw with interest your recent FoI request, and if you haven't already seen it you may be interested in a response I received last year. I have copied it below. However, regardless of the chance of getting caught, as the National Association of Reformed Offenders we have to be careful not to encourage people to break the law.

I can understand how frustrating this may sound, because I found myself in this situation only a year ago when a family relative was getting married in America. Because of the short-period of time until travel, I didn't have to time to apply for a Visa. I decided not to travel, as I wasn't going to risk getting caught breaking the law.

The difficult position we now find ourselves in is that if we were to try and work to close down this stupid process, it would probably result in the US getting access to the PNC, rather than them simply acknowledging their systems are compeltely ineffective and therefore dropping the general requirement to disclose information.


FoI response

The Home Office does not hold a copy of any agreement by which information on the Police National Computer (or other criminal conviction related information) is shared with the United States. We are however aware of the general process by which information is shared. In deciding to release the information we have considered that the public interest in relations to the exemptions set out in Section 31(1)(a) [the prevention and detection of crime and 31(1)(b) [the apprehension and prosecution of offenders] of the Freedom of Information Act falls in favour of providing the information.

The public interest reason in favour of withholding the information is to make sure that that those who have committed crimes or who have otherwise come to the attention of the law enforcement authorities in each country are not aware that information is shared between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Public Interest Test arguments in favour of disclosure are that it is important for members of the public to be aware that information is shared between the two countries. By doing this the public can be re-assured that criminals are not able to escape justice by moving country, or be committing crimes in a country that is not that of their nationality. In this case the public interest argument in favour of withholding the information is outweighed by the arguments in favour of releasing the information.

The United States authorities do not have routine access to criminal record information held on the Police National Computer nor is the Police Certificate Process routine access to the PNC by the American Authorities. The Police Certificate arrangements are with the individual applicants who may or may not choose to subsequently share the content of the certificate with the US authorities. Further information on the ACRO Police Certificate Process can be found on the ACRO website at https://www.acpo.police.uk/certificates.asp and on the application form page of the same website at https://www.acpo.police.uk/Certificates/Application%20Form%208.doc

The United States authorities are able to seek details of any criminal convictions held on the Police National Computer on an individual request basis through Interpol channels.

Criminal conviction information on US Nationals who have been convicted of offences in England and Wales is extracted from the Police National Computer and sent, via Interpol channels to the United States in cases where there are fingerprints available and when the conviction is for imprisonment for 12 months or more or the offence is against national security or where sharing would be in the interests of public protection."

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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biologist,

I completely understand your frustrations, and it is absolutely reasonable to react in such a practical manner, as clearly the reality is that it is unlikely that the US authorities will find out. Nevertheless, as you recognise, we have to appreciate that travelling in such a way contravenes US Immigration law. Once people are aware of this, and of the facts around access to information, and the number of people likely to travel each year (which includes reports of our members who routinely travel with no problems) people are then free to make up their own minds. Part of our job is to make that information available, which is what I am working on. Unfortunately, time is limited at the moment, but I do hope to send something out shortly. Please bear with me.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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Damon,

This is a very good point. The notification scheme for people on ViSOR is important. I do not believe such intentions to travel are passed on, but it would be interesting if anybody had experiences of this.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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J,

I know you have also emailed me directly about this but thought I would respond on here so that others could see it also.

Firstly, I do not believe there is any formal transfer of information between ACPO and the US Embassy. The section on our Travel section is quite enlightening in highlighting the processes of sharing the information informally with US officials, which is mainly simply through Interpol - they do not have direct access to the PNC. Obviously, cynical people may think that this information is simply shared informally, however having spoken to some members of ACPO (and ACRO), I personally don't think this is the case.

As for how your convictions sits in their definition of moral turpitude, you will see that, whilst this doesn't mean you can simply travel without applying for a Visa, it means that you may not have any problems in being granted a visa, as I believe the US Embassy decision only takes into convictions that they define as moral turpitude. There is a more reliable source for this information aken from the US Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 – Visas 9 FAM 40.21(a) Notes – available to download at /www.state.gov/documents/organization/86942.pdf

Unfortunately, there is little official (or reliable) accounts that outline the types of decisions that the US Embassy makes. It is a default opinion to think they will simply refuse, which may be the case, but I don't have evidence to support this, and so suspect this isn't always the case.

Hope this helps.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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aim,

That's brilliant news. It's good to see somebody goe through the official process and get permission travel. That must take a big weight off your shoulders.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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Interesting article on Cheryl Cole and US X Factor - will be interesting to see how this pans out - www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1334558/Cheryl-Coles-assault-conviction-stop-US-X-Factor-judge.html

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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d211q2,

You are right to point out the confusion. However, I noticed when looking at a video on the US Embassy website (which I tweeted last week) it says "if you have a criminal conviction, you may need to apply for a visa. I personally think it all hangs on the definition of moral turpitude

On the guidance I have been working on, I have tried to define this using much of the information provided by the US. There is no specific one for "ABH", but I have the following:

Crimes classed as moral turpitude:

Assault (this crime is broken down into several categories, which involve moral turpitude):
Assault with intent to kill, commit rape, commit robbery or commit serious bodily harm
Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon

Crimes note classed as moral turpitude
Assault (simple) (i.e., any assault, which does not require an evil intent or depraved motive, although it may involve the use of a weapon, which is neither dangerous nor deadly)

Of course, this discussion is somewhat frivalous to some, as many simply travel without even questioning saying "No" on the ESTA, but there are potentially serious consequences to this.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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Bryan - there is detailed information on our online information hub about travelling to the US with a criminal record - it's on the main UNLOCK site.

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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wandwall,

The information on the website points out that the question relates to arrests or convictions, so the caution for a fire would also be covered, which is classed as moral turpitude, so she'll have to apply.

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