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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 Debs for taking the time to reply, it is very much appreciated.
I never actually attended at the police station as the sgt there was a personal friend of mine so he would come to my house for coffee anyway!!!

i say this because he has since retired and I no longer keep in touch etc, so I cannot ask him but would say that unless it was mandatory that a notice was placed on my passport ? then it would not have been put on by my local force!

On the two occasions it has failed (Manchester) at the auto gates, first time mine failed and my wife’s too, the second time, hers worked mine failed but my son and daughter in laws failed too! So am hopeful it’s just poor technology but the doubts remain.

I visited the Algarve in 2015 with family and chose the manned route I watched closely when I handed over my passport for any change / flicker of eyes towards the screen etc. by the passport officer but cannot recall any such action, however poker is certainly not my game.
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
Debbie Sadler
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Hi Jobe1287

What an amazing 30th anniversary present and you're certainly doing the right thing by thinking about your visa/esta so far in advance of your trip.

As Ben says, it's more than likely that you'll be fine travelling using an ESTA. US Immigration have no access to your criminal record unless they make a special request although they'd need to have some sort of intelligence on you to allow them to do so. However, many people feel a lot more comfortable applying for and travelling using a visa. There is very little guidance from the US Embassy as to what makes a successful visa application but I'd say that as your conviction was so long ago and only resulted in a fine then you'd stand a good chance of your visa being granted. 

I'm slightly concerned that you've stated your passport has 'failed' when using the automatic gates despite the passport being issued since you were removed from the SOR. You'd generally see this happen where a passport has been flagged and although I'm not sure why this would still be the case, it might be worth finding out whether an alert is still live. Try speaking to the Public Protection Unit at the police station you were attending for you annual notification to see if they can shed any light on this. The College of Policing quite clearly state in their guidance:

It is essential that offender managers review the intelligence that led to a green notice. Once the intelligence is no longer valid, the necessity for a green notice will no longer meet the proportionality test. The force must contact the UK NCB to make arrangements for the notice to be removed from the INTERPOL database.

If you're clear that there is no alert on your passport, this may make the decision about travelling using an ESTA or visa a bit easier to make.

Hope this helps.

Debs




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Jobe1287
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I am genuinely flummoxed by the esta situation though.
As I stated earlier, if I had never visited the forums or other media and simply thought hey let’s go to the usa, gone in to the esta and filled it in this is the question that would confront me;“Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?”
I can honestly answer NO to that question!
So maybe esta is the way? But then the little doubts creep in about being stopped by passport control and refused entry. But why? I answered the question honestly? Flummoxed
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
Jobe1287
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BenS - 13 May 18 5:11 PM
Jobe1287 - 13 May 18 4:28 PM
I got a new passport (biometric) in 2013.Worried now that every time I have used it (twice) it has failed and I have needed to go via the human line, but this could’ve coincidence or the fact that I am terrified when going through the gate that alarms will sound

When going through the human line, have you been asked any additional questions at all? Or have they just checked/scanned your passport and sent you straight through?

Additional questions may mean the computer has prompted them to do a discreet check, but it could also be pure coincidence. My wife has no criminal record whatsoever and the last time she travelled abroad (without me), she got asked basic questions like where she was coming from and how long she'd been there. Doesn't mean they suspect you or have anything on their screen saying "criminal", it's also random just like random friskings at security. I've you'd travelled 20 times and all 20 times been rejected by the automatic gates, maybe they have something on you. But for only two occasions, hard to know, could be but could be coincidence.

Yes, I believe the ESTA now refers to damage/harm afflicted to persons/property. In my opinion, for this kind of conviction, the truthful and unashamed answer to this question is "no". But as we know, authorities sometimes see this differently.

I think the crux of the matter is legally speaking, a visa is required, but in reality, they are extremely unlikely to know about your conviction. It's a bit of a lottery.

Thank You Ben

No, no further checks or questions just waved through.

Will carefully consider your comments.

Have decided that I will post on here every step of the way, VISA or ESTA for future persons to garner much needed information or assurances.



BenS
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Jobe1287 - 13 May 18 4:28 PM
I got a new passport (biometric) in 2013.Worried now that every time I have used it (twice) it has failed and I have needed to go via the human line, but this could’ve coincidence or the fact that I am terrified when going through the gate that alarms will sound

When going through the human line, have you been asked any additional questions at all? Or have they just checked/scanned your passport and sent you straight through?

Additional questions may mean the computer has prompted them to do a discreet check, but it could also be pure coincidence. My wife has no criminal record whatsoever and the last time she travelled abroad (without me), she got asked basic questions like where she was coming from and how long she'd been there. Doesn't mean they suspect you or have anything on their screen saying "criminal", it's also random just like random friskings at security. I've you'd travelled 20 times and all 20 times been rejected by the automatic gates, maybe they have something on you. But for only two occasions, hard to know, could be but could be coincidence.

Yes, I believe the ESTA now refers to damage/harm afflicted to persons/property. In my opinion, for this kind of conviction, the truthful and unashamed answer to this question is "no". But as we know, authorities sometimes see this differently.

I think the crux of the matter is legally speaking, a visa is required, but in reality, they are extremely unlikely to know about your conviction. It's a bit of a lottery.
Edited
2 Years Ago by BenS
Jobe1287
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I got a new passport (biometric) in 2013.Worried now that every time I have used it (twice) it has failed and I have needed to go via the human line, but this could’ve coincidence or the fact that I am terrified when going through the gate that alarms will sound 😀I believe the new esta questions only refer to serious damage etc so if I had never researched the subject or subscribed to unlock I would genuinely answer honestly NO to the question? So unsure what to do, Thank you for taking the time to reply though. It is very much appreciated.
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
BenS
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You're welcome.

Even if there was a green notice on your passport back then, I assume by now that you will have had a new passport without needing to register it. 5 years' SOR was until 2008, so it's been 10 years since then.

Any marks on your passport are "supposed" to be removed immediately after you come off the SOR. Some other users on here have confirmed this: someone reported using the automatic passport gates with no issue 2 days after coming off the SOR (whereas they never work for people on the SOR).

Even if some things may "accidentally" stay on file, your getting a new passport since 2008, and no longer needing to register either your passport details or any foreign travel, will very likely mean there is absolutely nothing on your current passport.

While your conviction is fairly minor, we all know how seriously the US take sex offences, even minor online ones, so who knows if they will grant a visa.

Hopefully some other users will contribute to give some more perspectives.
Edited
2 Years Ago by BenS
Jobe1287
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Thank you very much for your reply. I fully understand your thought process, on paper on the face of it, the ESTA question does not apply to me especially as the embassy now uses clarification rather than moral turpitude. However, my concern is if at the time of my sentence a green notice would have been placed on my passport by default (?there was no such thing as PPU etc back then)If this was done it should by the rules be removed after sentence was completed but I have no way of knowing if this is the case and have heard stories of notices ‘accidentally’ Remaining on file ! So am apprehensive in that regard. The trial run especially from Ireland is a good idea, but is not for me me. I am 50/50 between ESTA and visa app, my wife would like me to apply so we can relax about it .I have been to Europe etc without problems but never international travel. The visa requirements for Canada and Australia I comply with so they are an option if the usa refuse me
Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
BenS
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Hi,

There is a 99% chance that you can get an ESTA, tick "no" to the dreaded question, and get in as normal. Probably no need to worry about a visa.

People with unspent, more recent, and more serious convictions than yours have travelled to the US without issue on an ESTA.

The US authorities have no access to the UK's criminal records. They can only access a UK citizen's record by making a specific individual request through Interpol, and this must be based on reasonable suspicion that the person may commit a crime in the US - they can't request a person's records just as part of a random check.

Unlock has a comprehensive section on US travel: https://hub.unlock.org.uk/knowledgebase/travelling-to-the-usa-the-esta-form-and-moral-turpitude/

If you're worried about the potential of being denied entry and ruining your wife's dream holiday, then if you have the means, do a "test run" by yourself. I had a quick look on Expedia - you can do a long weekend (Friday-Monday) in New York or Boston this autumn for around £500 (flights + hotel). Might be cheaper in the week.

A second "test option" is to travel from Ireland. Both Dublin and Shannon airports have US pre-screening. In other words, all US immigration formalities are done in Ireland before you board your flight. When you arrive in the US, there is no passport control - it is as if you are on a domestic flight. So should the worst happen, you will only find yourself stuck in Ireland and having to get home from there, rather than from America. This can only be done in Ireland, as no airports in the UK have this facility

Good luck and enjoy your "vacation".
Edited
2 Years Ago by BenS
Jobe1287
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Hi
It is my 30th wedding anniversary next July 2019.  My wife has always wanted to travel to the USA for a holiday and it would be my dearest wish to do this for her.

I was convicted of possession of 6 (SIX) images in 2003 and my sentence was a small fine and registration for 5 yrs. At the time of travel the conviction would therefor be 16 yrs old (the actual 'offence' was in 2001 but it took the police forensic two years to re-find the images after their machine broke down!), I quotation mark offence a I am innocent, have always maintained my innocence and always will, the images were allegedly found on a computer that was brand new only 5 weeks before and after a lightening strike was being repaired by what I now know to be a very dubious company ( since folded) and even the police forensics examiner was himself convicted of perjury a few years later and removed from the experts list!!!!

However, i understand completely that this is all irrelevant, I am convicted and since 2001 have lived quietly in a rural area away from society and fearful of the google effect every day of my life. Obviously my wife has borne this burden with me and for this reason I am plucking up the courage to apply for a Visa, she should not be punished further.

So my questions are the obvious ones really; Will I get a visa?  Also, advice re how the US treats my offence.  I also seek advice because I am a proud man, an innocent man, and i have read the consulate like their applicants to be remorseful and showing they are changed characters. I don't think I can do that, I am innocent.  Would that go against me? Finally, should I apply myself or pay a solicitor / expert to do it for me?

Any advice would be very gratefully received.



Edited
2 Years Ago by Jobe1287
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