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Applying for a USA Tourist Visa - Advice please


Applying for a USA Tourist Visa - Advice please

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Jobe1287
Jobe1287
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Thank you Zack for taking the time to reply.

Much appreciated,
Zack
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I do not have a criminal record myself (I'm on here as my partner does). My passport never works in the automatic gates, I did ask and was told it was a defective chip, I got the impression that this happens quite a lot. So if your passport doesn't work in the gates, it's possible there are other reasons for this.

Jobe1287
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Hi Square, thanks for your input.

I understand your view / explanation especially regarding Nigella.

I am a little concerned about the Irish woman though. She overstayed her visa some years previously so no doubt was immediately placed on a ‘no re entry’ kind of watch list, which I completely understand.

She however, successfully applied for an ESTA! if my reasoning is correct the ESTA process should check known watch lists before granting permission to travel, so why didn’t that happen?

Apart from a direct tip off at Dublin airport pre clearance I can’t think of why the official would ask for further checks?

Any ideas?

Jobe
Square
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Jobe1287 - 28 May 18 1:41 PM
Jobe1287 - 22 May 18 8:36 PM
Thank You again johnL for an extremely informative and knowledgable post. I am a little late to change my passport before krakow and also I do want to test this passport out too. I especially found your interaction with the PPU most interesting. It leads me to believe there is and was never any justifiable reason to place any kind of notice on my passport and therefore there should not be on on my relatively new one and most certainly not on a new one again. ( I will definately take your advice and renew my passport before applying for an ESTA )Can I ask, you stated on two replies that you became aware of notices on your passport, how did you know?Your posts have swayed me massively towards the ESTA route, you rightly point out that I can legally, justifiably and morally apply for and ESTA and answer all application questions honestly. Jobe

Hi Again!

Am getting a little nervous now re my upcoming trip and as is my custom am heavily researching forums etc!!!!

Just to recap, I am travelling to Europe from Manchester on the 20th June primarily to test out the automated passport gates on my return and to test BenS's submission that the Schengen countries now insist on full scanning of all in and out passengers, so it is a chance to test out if I am questioned at all.

I came across a few webpages such as the independent in which it highlighted difficulties sin travelling to the USA, and in particular Nigella Lawson being refused entry.  In that case she had never been convicted of any offence but a few months prior had admitted in open court (during the case against her former husband for assault) that she had taken Cocaine.


She was travelling on an ESTA and was stopped at the US Border?  How can that happen?

Another case but a little older 2009, an Irish woman travelling through p[re clearance in Dublin on an ESTA was stopped and refused as the customs official had information that she had overstayed her Visa some years earlier by 8 days. 

My question is, why did the ESTA allow her to travel but there was more detailed info that the customs official was aware of?

In the case of Nigella, was this just her being placed on a watch list?  For what purpose?

I still favour the ESTA route when I travel in July 2019 but have reservations.

Anyway, will update as I clear customs in Manchester / Krakow on the 20th and again on my return.

Jobe



In the case of Nigella, she is a public figure and her case was widely publicised. I'm sure someone noticed that she was due to arrive and stopped her. the case of the Irish woman - the problem occurred in the US so surely this was put on her 'file' when it happened.
There is a case of a public figure (Jim Torbett) and ex football coach who had previous convictions, and was tracked down to the US even although there were fresh allegations against him. He was travelling on an ESTA (he was kicked out when the story went public).
Unless someone informs homeland security you are travelling, have committed an offence in the US, or have an overly attendant homeland security official you will be fine.
If your case was not reported in the press I can't see how they would even be able to find out if the wanted to. Even then, they cant search the web for every person.


Jobe1287
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Jobe1287 - 22 May 18 8:36 PM
Thank You again johnL for an extremely informative and knowledgable post. I am a little late to change my passport before krakow and also I do want to test this passport out too. I especially found your interaction with the PPU most interesting. It leads me to believe there is and was never any justifiable reason to place any kind of notice on my passport and therefore there should not be on on my relatively new one and most certainly not on a new one again. ( I will definately take your advice and renew my passport before applying for an ESTA )Can I ask, you stated on two replies that you became aware of notices on your passport, how did you know?Your posts have swayed me massively towards the ESTA route, you rightly point out that I can legally, justifiably and morally apply for and ESTA and answer all application questions honestly. Jobe

Hi Again!

Am getting a little nervous now re my upcoming trip and as is my custom am heavily researching forums etc!!!!

Just to recap, I am travelling to Europe from Manchester on the 20th June primarily to test out the automated passport gates on my return and to test BenS's submission that the Schengen countries now insist on full scanning of all in and out passengers, so it is a chance to test out if I am questioned at all.

I came across a few webpages such as the independent in which it highlighted difficulties sin travelling to the USA, and in particular Nigella Lawson being refused entry.  In that case she had never been convicted of any offence but a few months prior had admitted in open court (during the case against her former husband for assault) that she had taken Cocaine.


She was travelling on an ESTA and was stopped at the US Border?  How can that happen?

Another case but a little older 2009, an Irish woman travelling through p[re clearance in Dublin on an ESTA was stopped and refused as the customs official had information that she had overstayed her Visa some years earlier by 8 days. 

My question is, why did the ESTA allow her to travel but there was more detailed info that the customs official was aware of?

In the case of Nigella, was this just her being placed on a watch list?  For what purpose?

I still favour the ESTA route when I travel in July 2019 but have reservations.

Anyway, will update as I clear customs in Manchester / Krakow on the 20th and again on my return.

Jobe



Jobe1287
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Thank You again johnL for an extremely informative and knowledgable post.

I am a little late to change my passport before krakow and also I do want to test this passport out too.

I especially found your interaction with the PPU most interesting. It leads me to believe there is and was never any justifiable reason to place any kind of notice on my passport and therefore there should not be on on my relatively new one and most certainly not on a new one again. ( I will definately take your advice and renew my passport before applying for an ESTA )

Can I ask, you stated on two replies that you became aware of notices on your passport, how did you know?

Your posts have swayed me massively towards the ESTA route, you rightly point out that I can legally, justifiably and morally apply for and ESTA and answer all application questions honestly.

Jobe
JohnL
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Just to add, I’ve found the 10 year rule information - it’s on the website of a US immigration lawyer based in the UK. The article is below. To fully understand it all it does require some research on US criminal statutes, but the 10 year rule does seem to apply to those with no custody, low number image offenses.

https://www.us-visa.co.uk/Articles/inadmissibility-and-waivers/can-sexual-offenders-be-forgiven

I do however believe that, unless you wanted to live there, the ESTA route is the better one to go for, particularly as you can answer all the ESTA questions honestly and still tick no to everything as they’ve changed the wording of the infamous ‘moral turpitude’ question.. If after interview for a visa the embassy official was happy with your responses, they would need to send a visa waiver request recommendation to the Department of Homeland Security which I’ve read can take at least 6 months, and isn’t guaranteed.
JohnL
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Hi Jobe,

It sounds like you’ve found a way of dealing with the issue that is working for you, so I wish you every success with that continuing.

When I was first on the SoR, i was able to travel abroad without anything flagging on the border computers, anywhere. I had to notify any travel at the police station as per always - it sounds like you were lucky with doing it via a friend. After 6 months or so, I realised that my passport was starting to be flagged when I arrived in European Union member countries, but not African countries. This led me to do some research, and I came to the conclusion that people on the SoR have Visor records. Whenever travel is notified, the Visor record sends out an article 36 alert to the destination country via the Schengen information system (only for EU countries). It also creates an alert on the HOWI, Home Office Watch index. This is why you can be asked questions both when arriving in a foreign EU country and when arriving back in the UK. I put my findings to the PPU team by phone and they were 1) shocked that I knew about the article 36 alerts, and 2) confirmed that whenever a person notifies travel that is on the SoR it sends out an automatic alert. I asked why I wasn’t having the problem with Africa, and they said that would be covered by an Interpol Green Notice which has to be requested manually, however they said they saw me as very low risk so had decided not to send out these green notices. So the Schengen alerts are automatic, and the Green notices are manual.

My suggestion is that you don’t make any enquiries at the police station on this subject at all. You are meant to notify at a ‘prescribed’ police station, which are allocated stations for dealing with SoR issues. It sounds like your policeman friend was helping you, but you could come into some legal issues if they find out you were travelling without properly notifying - the buck will always stop with you. Though saying that, I believe the law changed in 2013, so it may be that you didn’t have to notify travel before - I’m not fully sure. But best to keep quiet just in case.

Before you go to Krakow, get a new passport. That way, you know it’s clean and if your old passport was on any lists then the new one won’t be as you get a new passport number. You should also remember that the trip to krakow is covered by different laws and watch lists than the US, so a success trip to krakow won’t necessarily guarantee a success trip to the US (and vice versa). However, I’ve done a lot of research into the travel laws regarding current and post SoR registrants and I genuinely believe you will be fine, especially as I was notifying more recently than you and had no issue at all after years of worrying.

Once you get your new passport and before you go to Krakow, apply for the ESTA. Krakow won’t have access to your approved or denied ESTA information, but at least then you’ll know for both US and European travel.

Get ready to enjoy some fun trips - I cannot see how you’d possibly have a problem.

John
Jobe1287
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Hi JohnL

Thank You so much for taking the time to offer advice and reassurance, it is very much appreciated and gratefully received.

I am glad you have ‘made peace’ with your past, I have not been able to do so despite intensive psychotherapy, prescription drugs and an occasional practice run of a final peace.

I find especially with the google effect hovering over me waiting to strike at any time, the best for me has been complete social withdrawal, I live very quietly in a very rural area and have very limited occasional contact with the outside world. It suits me to to do this, I would not advocate it to anyone else. However I am married and have children who are now married and having children, so life goes on , with me in perpetual fear of discovery via google. My daughters in law etc do not know of my conviction.

Your post was very heartening and most welcome.

Can I ask, you stated that your passport had a flag on it? How did you know this? I never met with ppu or signed into police stations etc due to personal friends, but I did with all complete ignorance go to Greece and Spain whilst on the SOR I didn’t know at the time my passport could be flagged!!!! Ignorance is bliss, so they say.

My SOR ended in 2008 my conviction due to a fine as sentence was actually spent in 2004 just 12 months after conviction, hence me now (and impending 30th Wedding Anniversary) getting the courage to face my fate and apply. So if your 10yr rule applies I would stand a chance?

Now, with more knowledge via the unlock community I am able to understand the position better.

I am flying deliberately from Manchester on the 20th June to Krakow Poland in order to test out the Schengen situation and give my wife a well earned break. I do not expect any problems but am praying with all my might that the auto gate accepts my passport. If it does I will feel more confident on applying for an ESTA.If it doesn’t work I may get the chance to question the passport officer to shed any light on if. If he can’t then my plan is to get a new passport claiming damage to the old one.

Will keep you and potential future readers posted.
Thanks again

Jobe
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
JohnL
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Hi Jobe,

Hope it's not too late - I just want to add my experience here.

I fully understand your situation, as indeed I was in it myself. I have the same offense as you (though a caution, not a conviction) for a low number of images on a multi-user PC that was put on me as I owned it. But that's the past and I've made my peace with it.

From what I've read, you have nothing to fear and should travel on an ESTA. I too spent ages in almost a panic about going to the USA or Canada and being turned away at the border, meaning that I would be stuck in North America and also having lost a lot of money on hotels etc. I even turned down work trips for fear of being denied entry with my colleagues beside me... I've been off the SoR for 4+ years now, and have since travelled with no issue to Africa and Europe. When I was on the SoR, my passport used to get flagged when travelling in Europe but not Africa where I used to go regularly for work, which means my passport was flagging on the EU's Schengen Information System that has been discussed in various posts on the forum. However, I asked my PPU to ensure that any alerts were removed when I finished my time and they emailed to confirm that this had been done. Since then, I've had no problem travelling. And recently I travelled to the USA for a holiday and was allowed in having only applied for an ESTA, not a visa. No questions asked at the border.

However, like you, I've read all these stories online of people being denied entry to the US at the border and the US immigration officials magically finding your criminal record. Let me spell out a few things that I've learnt:

1) The USA do not have access to UK criminal records on a general basis. They can only access them on a case by case basis by contacting Interpol, and to do this they would need to suspect you of something. So unless you're acting very jumpy at the border, why would they?
2) The ESTA process checks your passport information against the US watchlists, which as far as I can see is the same things that a US border official will check against when you arrive at the airport. So, apply for your ESTA now. If it comes back approved, then get that trip booked!
3) If the ESTA is not accepted, then you can apply for a visa. HOWEVER, they will not give you a travel visa yet due to the offense, no matter how minor. I cannot find the link anymore, but I did find a checklist which said that you have a CHANCE of getting a visa after you have been 'clear', i.e. your sentence spent, for 10 years. Only then will they even consider giving you one. So if you apply for a visa now, you will have a big stamp in your passport which says that the US denied you a visa and you'll then have to explain why every time you travel.

So I hope that helps. Get that ESTA applied for and you'll feel a lot better. Good luck!

Edited
2 Years Ago by JohnL
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