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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
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Thank You Yankee.

I guess the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ is most relevant here, Before I began thinking of visas to the usa ( having spent years with the ‘well I didn’t want to go there anyway’ lie) and before I came across sites like unlock etc, I was more confident to just ‘front it out’ and travel.

Now, I am worried about my upcoming Krakow trip although that’s exactly why I am going. It will be just my wife and I and she obviously is aware of everything so if any issues do arise we can deal with them discreetly.

If all goes well, then that would be a blessing. So fingers crossed! Krakow does look lovely and we have sobering(mans inhumanity to man)  day trips booked too.

Thanks again for your input.

Jobe
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
Yankee
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Jobe1287 - 17 May 18 9:17 PM
Thank You Ben and Yankee.

I am I think looking for monsters under the bed with regards to a green notice on my passport, I have no reason to believe one was ever placed on it, and have had a new passport issued some 5 years after the legal termination of it should it ever have been put on it. I have had a biometric passport since March 2013

That being said my old and new passport have never successfully passed the automated barrier, my daughter in law has a new ish passport and as you rightly say the technology is unreliable she is 2 fail 3 pass at the auto gate currently.

However, I have decided to follow Bens advice. I have booked a 3 night break to krakow starting June 20th. I have not booked my favoured local airport (Liverpool) as it doesn’t have an auto gate, so will be flying from Manchester instead (crap hole airport but great football team 😄) so that I can avail myself of the auto gate on my return.

I intend if it fails again to specifically ask the passport officer why it has done so and if there is anything flagged that would prevent the auto gate working.

I will need a very stiff drink before and after said episode.

Do you think that’s a good idea?

If it gives you comfort that there are no monsters, a great idea.  Krakow is a beautiful, albeit small, city so a 3 night break there is also a great idea.

The one other possible explanation is that the digitisation of your passport photograph wasn't quite as good as it should have been so the data points from the facial recognition system are outside the tolerance levels. 


Jobe1287
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Thank You Ben and Yankee.

I am I think looking for monsters under the bed with regards to a green notice on my passport, I have no reason to believe one was ever placed on it, and have had a new passport issued some 5 years after the legal termination of it should it ever have been put on it. I have had a biometric passport since March 2013

That being said my old and new passport have never successfully passed the automated barrier, my daughter in law has a new ish passport and as you rightly say the technology is unreliable she is 2 fail 3 pass at the auto gate currently.

However, I have decided to follow Bens advice. I have booked a 3 night break to krakow starting June 20th. I have not booked my favoured local airport (Liverpool) as it doesn’t have an auto gate, so will be flying from Manchester instead (crap hole airport but great football team 😄) so that I can avail myself of the auto gate on my return.

I intend if it fails again to specifically ask the passport officer why it has done so and if there is anything flagged that would prevent the auto gate working.

I will need a very stiff drink before and after said episode.

Do you think that’s a good idea?
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
Yankee
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Yankee - 17 May 18 10:09 AM
Hi Jobe - if you are concerned that your passport is still flagged for legacy reasons (alert not removed from Schengen information system or a Green notice not withdrawn), why not simply apply for a new passport?  You will then have certainty that it's number will not be on a watch list anywhere.

On the automated gates, the technology is still temperamental - when I used them extensively prior to my conviction, i'd say they worked no better than 70% of the time regardless of location.

On having a US visa in your passport - as Ben says, there are many reasons you may have it.  If it's any comfort, I have had a US 10 year multi entry visa in my passports for the last 30 years. During that time I've travelled on business and holiday to numerous countries around the world and never once had a question about it.  The only question was the US itself when the border agent was curious why I had the visa. 'Embarrasing incident at my batchelor party' - he laughed and I was on my way. 

Ironically, for that offence and the sentence (fine), I would pass the ESTA questionnaire today and wouldn't have gone down the visa route. However, having done so all those years ago (when there was no ESTA and I had a job offer thast relied on travel to the US and wanted absolute certainty) I renewed it every 10 years simply to avoid making someone curious why I had one previously but not now ...
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Hi Jobe - if you are concerned that your passport is still flagged for legacy reasons (alert not removed from Schengen information system or a Green notice not withdrawn), why not simply apply for a new passport?  You will then have certainty that it's number will not be on a watch list anywhere.

On the automated gates, the technology is still temperamental - when I used them extensively prior to my conviction, i'd say they worked no better than 70% of the time regardless of location.

On having a US visa in your passport - as Ben says, there are many reasons you may have it.  If it's any comfort, I have had a US 10 year multi entry visa in my passports for the last 30 years. During that time I've travelled on business and holiday to numerous countries around the world and never once had a question about it.  The only question was the US itself when the border agent was curious why I had the visa. 'Embarrasing incident at my batchelor party' - he laughed and I was on my way. 
BenS
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Hi Jobe,

No problem. SInce my conviction almost 10 years ago, I have read extensively about the travelling issues, as I travel several times a year so like to know what might be expected.

In response to your comments:

"As you advised in your first post it may be prudent for me to arrange a trial run (USA is not an option for me) maybe a visit to a European country perhaps France, sometime this year and test it all out again before making a final decision of Visa or ESTA.. Do you think that would yield any useful information?"

It would be an interesting test to go to France to see if your passport fails in the automatic gates and/or you are asked any questions by the passport agent, but it has no validity in terms of being denied entry, as you cannot legally be denied entry to an EU country. They can ask you questions but they must let you through afterwards, unless you have a serious contagious disease or they have credible proof that you are a treat to their national security. The mere presence of a criminal conviction is not sufficient to deny EU citizens entry into other EU countries. On the other hand, the US can arbitrarily deny entry to foreigners at their discretion (but having a valid visa protects against this).

---

With regards to those travels, IF there was a green notice on my passport would you believe an officer at passport control would have stopped me or questioned me in any way seeing as there are no Visa requirements?

Usually, but not guaranteed. It depends on how busy they are, if you are travelling with anyone else, if they can be bothered, etc. A green notice is not related to the lack of visa requirements. Although they can't deny you entry, they have every right to ask you basic questions in a discreet manner before letting you through. In the last 6-12 months, they have unfortunately stepped up in this regard, with the amendment to the Schengen Borders Code which makes "glancing at your passport and waving you through" a thing of the past - now they have to scan everyone's passport and check it against various databases - on both entry to and exit from the Schengen area! An EU citizen with a green notice will likely be asked basic extra questions but then be let through.

---

I am certain that my local force would not have asked for any restriction or notice to be on my passport unless it was a mandatory requirement, but do not know if green notices are a mandatory requirement or not.

There is some debate around this, which you can see on other threads on this forum. Many people seem to say that it is up to the police's discretion as to whether or not they issue a green notice. But it seems that some forces blanketly issue it for everyone, even people they trust. You are very unlikely to get a direct answer if you ask your local force about a green notice.

---

I understand your point with Debs advising I might make contact with my local force, would you happen to have any idea how this is done and if they are obliged to respond to me, as far as I know it might not come under Freedom of Information Act as it would be classed as Police Information, but I might be wrong. Would you know if they are obliged to check and answer the question of whether my passport has any notices placed upon it?

You can submit a Subject Access Request to your local force to request all the information they have on you. But, as you correctly inferred, they are allowed to restrict what they reveal, under the law enforcement exemption (S.2(31) of the Freedom of Information Act) or a similar exemption. They probably wouldn't tell you if you have a green notice, but no harm trying. Good news: a Subject Access Request used to be £10, but will soon be free, in line with the new GDPR: https://www.acro.police.uk/subject_access.aspx So if you wait until 25 May to do it, it's free. You can find information on how to submit a SAR on the website of your local police force.

--- 

IF I apply for a Visa and it is granted, the visa then goes into my passport and every time I travel anywhere the passport officer would see that i had NEEDED to apply for a US Visa and that in its self is a mark on my passport that may alert suspicion? Or am I over thinking things?

I think you're overthinking it. There are myriad reasons why people from ESTA-eligible countries who have no criminal convictions need a US visa:

- They live there
- They work there
- They are on holiday there for more than the 3 months permitted under ESTA
- They have travelled to certain high-risk countries in recent years (e.g. a charity worker who has been to Syria will need a US visa even if they are a national of ESTA-eligible country)
- They have dual nationality with a country that the US doesn't like (Iran, Somalia, etc.), in which case you need a visa even if your other nationality is ESTA-eligible
- Certain people travelling on business (but not actually employed in the US) need a visa even if they are ESTA-eligible citizens, e.g. journalists
Edited
2 Years Ago by BenS
Jobe1287
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BenS - 15 May 18 7:30 PM
Jobe1287 - 15 May 18 2:41 PM
Am unsure why you would feel if I can travel within Europe without hassle then the usa would follow suit?

Because, as AB2014 says, the US won't know anything more (and almost certainly less, or nothing) than what the Europeans do. If the Europeans have nothing on you, then nor will the Americans.

Despite despising the Schengen border-free zone, the UK is - unsurprisingly - an enthusiastic member of the Schengen Information System (SIS), which shares details about current RSOs (among other things) with all EU countries plus the usual "advanced" non-EU bunch. But the US cannot see this information. All they can see is if there is an Interpol notice attached to your passport, and in your case, there is no reason at all why there should be one.

You mentioned a recent trip to Italy, so as an aside: the Schengen zone now also has strict exit checks for all travellers, including EU citizens. In other words, when flying from a Schengen country to a non-Schengen country (e.g. from Italy to the UK), your passport is checked. In most Schengen airports, boarding gates for non-Schengen flights are in a separate part of the airport building from Schengen flights, and for non-Schengen flights, you have to pass through passport control before reaching the departure gate.

For EU citizens, this procedure was not strictly implemented in the past. If you had an EU/EEA/Swiss passport, the border guards would often simply visually glance at your passport and wave you through. Sadly, not anymore - now they must scan all passports of all travellers on both entry and exit to/from the Schengen zone. Scanning the passport looks it up on databases like SIS and Interpol. Previously, this was only done for non-EU citizens, but now it's done for everyone. This became mandatory in autumn 2017, so if you flew from Italy 6 months ago, you should have gone through this exit check, and you have not mentioned experiencing any trouble upon departure?

The last two paragraphs were basically a long-winded way of saying it's quite possible that there is nothing on your passport. I would follow Deb's advice though.

(PS when you spot a typo, you can correct within the post rather than adding a new post to explain the typo. There is a pencil symbol in the top-right of the posts you have published.)

Once again Thank You Ben for a most informative post, (especially the typo bit!!!)

I visited Italy in September 2017 so may have been a little early for your reported changes.

As you advised in your first post it may be prudent for me to arrange a trial run  (USA is not an option for me) maybe a visit to a European country perhaps France, sometime this year and test it all out again before making a final decision of Visa or ESTA..

Do you think that would yield any useful information? To add further information, thankfully with complete naivety and ignorance!  I traveled to Greece in 2005,  Spain in 2006 on my old passport not even knowing the SOH might restrict my travel until it expired in 2008, then using my new  (from 2013) passport I traveled to Italy, Venice in 2013 and Rome in 2014.

With regards to those travels, IF there was a green notice on my passport would you believe an officer at passport control would have stopped me or questioned me in any way seeing as there are no Visa requirements?  I am certain that my local force would not have asked for any restriction or notice to be on my passport unless it was a mandatory requirement, but do not know if green notices are a mandatory requirement or not.

So including those above and a few tripos to the Channel Islands, I have visited Europe 9 times since my conviction in 2003.

I understand your point with Debs advising I might make contact with my local force, would you happen to have any idea how this is done and if they are obliged to respond to me, as far as I know it might not come under Freedom of Information Act as it would be classed as Police Information, but I might be wrong.  Would you know if they are obliged to check and answer the question of whether my passport has any notices placed upon it? I checked the INTERPOL website but they state that they do now respond to all requests for information. so is a bit hit and miss.

My main reason for being so pedantic about the passport issue is that, IF I apply for a Visa and it is granted, the visa then goes into my passport and every time I travel anywhere the passport officer would see that i had NEEDED to apply for a US Visa and that in its self is a mark on my passport that may alert suspicion?  Or am I over thinking things?

J





BenS
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Jobe1287 - 15 May 18 2:41 PM
Am unsure why you would feel if I can travel within Europe without hassle then the usa would follow suit?

Because, as AB2014 says, the US won't know anything more (and almost certainly less, or nothing) than what the Europeans do. If the Europeans have nothing on you, then nor will the Americans.

Despite despising the Schengen border-free zone, the UK is - unsurprisingly - an enthusiastic member of the Schengen Information System (SIS), which shares details about current RSOs (among other things) with all EU countries plus the usual "advanced" non-EU bunch. But the US cannot see this information. All they can see is if there is an Interpol notice attached to your passport, and in your case, there is no reason at all why there should be one.

You mentioned a recent trip to Italy, so as an aside: the Schengen zone now also has strict exit checks for all travellers, including EU citizens. In other words, when flying from a Schengen country to a non-Schengen country (e.g. from Italy to the UK), your passport is checked. In most Schengen airports, boarding gates for non-Schengen flights are in a separate part of the airport building from Schengen flights, and for non-Schengen flights, you have to pass through passport control before reaching the departure gate.

For EU citizens, this procedure was not strictly implemented in the past. If you had an EU/EEA/Swiss passport, the border guards would often simply visually glance at your passport and wave you through. Sadly, not anymore - now they must scan all passports of all travellers on both entry and exit to/from the Schengen zone. Scanning the passport looks it up on databases like SIS and Interpol. Previously, this was only done for non-EU citizens, but now it's done for everyone. This became mandatory in autumn 2017, so if you flew from Italy 6 months ago, you should have gone through this exit check, and you have not mentioned experiencing any trouble upon departure?

The last two paragraphs were basically a long-winded way of saying it's quite possible that there is nothing on your passport. I would follow Deb's advice though.

(PS when you spot a typo, you can correct within the post rather than adding a new post to explain the typo. There is a pencil symbol in the top-right of the posts you have published.)
Edited
2 Years Ago by BenS
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Thanks  for your input.
Am unsure why you would feel if I can travel within Europe without hassle then the usa would follow suit? Is that right?
I do understand Schengen but that’s my worry. Passport control in say. Portugal would need to allow me to enter even if my passport was tagged, as there is no requirement for visa.
If a flag came up they would probably not say anything whereas USA would .
I was in Florence Italy 6 months ago (September 2017), no problems leaving Manchester, entering Italy was fine, all human though, only problem was the automated passport check on return to Manchester that failed, walked over to the human check and he waved me though without a glance which was good because I was sweating / panicking as if carrying a 1000lb of contraband.
My daughter in law and sons also failed though, so I am non the wiser.
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
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Jobe1287 - 15 May 18 9:46 AM
Busted? Should read visited. Sorry no glasses, small phone

If you visited the Algarve with your new passport and it was checked, then it looks like there's nothing against you. You could always try the Schengen Zone again, as their system now checks everyone on arrival against current information. The US authorities won't know anything that the Schengen folks don't.

=========================================================

As Chris Stacey said: Although its not formally part of the sentence that is handed down in court, the criminal record that someone comes away with effectively becomes a second sentence, which can have a long-lasting, if not lifelong, impact.

GO


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