Travel to US - Visa waiver programme

#1
I`m going to Florida with the kids in a few weeks and was looking through some documents when I came across this waiver programme.
Apparently if you have ever been arrested, never mind convicted, you have to go to the US embassy and apply for a visa for entry into the US.
I was wondering just how the US Immigration people enforce this ruling. Do they have access to the Police computer in this country, which surely contravines the Data Protection Act, or is everyone`s criminal,proven or not, activities reported to the US authorities. Does the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act not apply here?
It seems the Yanks, as usual, want everything their way.
Have any Arrse members had problems getting into the US or had visas refused?
 
#2
rockape623 said:
I`m going to Florida with the kids in a few weeks and was looking through some documents when I came across this waiver programme.
Apparently if you have ever been arrested, never mind convicted, you have to go to the US embassy and apply for a visa for entry into the US.
I was wondering just how the US Immigration people enforce this ruling. Do they have access to the Police computer in this country, which surely contravines the Data Protection Act, or is everyone`s criminal,proven or not, activities reported to the US authorities. Does the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act not apply here?
It seems the Yanks, as usual, want everything their way.
Have any Arrse members had problems getting into the US or had visas refused?
Don't kid yourself that the Data Protection Act prevents the government from doing anything it likes with your details. Particularly if they can cite *security* as the reason.
 
#3
A guy I work with had to do the same for his trip to Hawaii, they are very strict about it
 
#4
Yeah, I appreciate that they are strict, but wondered from where they got their information.
 
#5
I dont know where thay get the information from but do you want to get to usa and get turned away.i have the same problem go to the embassy and que up get there early.the rehabilation of offenders doesnt count with usa.
 
#6
mate - I've got pulled by the old bill a couple of times for ummm, youthful indiscretions (20years ago). I fly in and out of the US all the time and have never been asked anything or prevented from entry. I think it is something to do with the serious of the case (e.g. a felony) but I might be wrong.

Good luck
 

engr172

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#7
Have to say, my youth was slightly colourful, and I have had no trouble getting access to the states. I suppose it could happen though
 
#8
Thanks for these guys. The stupid thing about this is, up untill December last year, I have been working for the US Government on the private security circuit, looking after a Major General fron their Corps of Engineers.
When I got my DoD badge, I mentioned my minor indiscretions to the clerk doing the background checks on me. He said, if I got the badge, I wouldn`t need a passport to get into the US, this badge would be enough. It`s a powerful document he says.
It`s my fault, should`ve checked earlier and remembered the age old advice,`Never believe anything anyone in uniform tells you.`
 
#9
Would this include arrested but not being charged with an offence, as opposed to not convicted?

I'm a bit confused because saying that the Rehabilitation of Offenders does not apply in the US, surely that implies you at least have to be guilty of something to be rehabilitated or have actually offended?

Confused =|
 
#12
Excellent, great news. Thanks guys, you`ve set my mind at rest.
Watch this space.
 
#13
I have been to USA many times, they don't have any access to our computers and files, the silliest tick box on the form is
"Have you ever or is now involved in a Terrorist or subversive organsiation, Yes ( ) NO( ) "
WTF , who is going to say "Yes" ?

The immigration staff are looking mainly for "Mr International Terrorist" and Illegals, not small fries, all questions by them follows the same format

whats your name ?
where were you born, ?
whats your job ?
why are you here ?
where are you going ?
sometimes going back to the original question again once or twice.

they are not really interested in your answers, they are looking for any hesitation in answering or getting it wrong that would get their attention, I get it all the time when I crossed from USA to Canada and back I must have crossed at least 7 times and Airports 10 times, same thing. same questions.

you have nothing to worry about.
 
#14
Thanks for taking the time to reply,bud. As I said earlier, I would have been extremely hacked off after forking out a considerable sum of cash for the trip but I do also hold my hands up and admit that I should have checked before booking.

Thanks again to all who have bothered to reply and put my mind at rest.
 
#15
Rockape,

Here are links to government sites with information about the VWP. The first one outlines the main details:

Visa Waiver Program

And it links to this page, which has the classifications of criminal conviction that make a traveler ineligible for a visa:

Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas

From the second site, if anyone's interested, it basically says:

(2) Criminal and related grounds.-

(A) Conviction of certain crimes.-

(i) In general.-Except as provided in clause (ii), any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-

(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime), or

(II) a violation of (or a conspiracy or attempt to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)), is inadmissible.

(ii) Exception.-Clause (i)(I) shall not apply to an alien who committed only one crime if-

(I) the crime was committed when the alien was under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and the alien released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date of application for a visa or other documentation and the date of application for admission to the United States, or

(II) the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed or of which the acts that the alien admits having committed constituted the essential elements) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed).

(B) Multiple criminal convictions.-Any alien convicted of 2 or more offenses (other than purely political offenses), regardless of whether the conviction was in a single trial or whether the offenses arose from a single scheme of misconduct and regardless of whether the offenses involved moral turpitude, for which the aggregate sentences to confinement were 5 years or more is inadmissible.
I think it would be safe to assume that the restrictions on the second page also apply to the VWP, although it doesn't say so in so many words. A quick call to the American Embassy in London would probably sort it out. But youthful indiscretions seem to be OK as long as that's what they were. (No idea how they'd know if you were lying, though.)

There's more, but I'm going to be charitable and assume most ARRSE members are not drug traffickers, prostitutes or terrorists. :D
 
#16
semper said:
I have been to USA many times, they don't have any access to our computers and files, the silliest tick box on the form is
"Have you ever or is now involved in a Terrorist or subversive organsiation, Yes ( ) NO( ) "
WTF , who is going to say "Yes" ?
Obviously no-one is going to tick yes, but if they catch you they can then get you for making a false declaration on your visa form and lock you up for long enough to gather evidence of other activities.

msr
 
#17
I understand your concern, I hope others have answered it. However, think about the 'mechanics' of this:
The "usual suspects" are already on a database, information from Special Branch, MI5 etc etc. They'll be picked out anyway (or mis-identified like the earstwhile Cat Stevens...!).
All the details of passengers boarding are taken at check-in: certainly from the UK there is sufficient time for these to be forwarded to the US Immigration authorities, they check the list and anyone of interest is referred by the US authority to the UK authorities and details provided from any one of a number of databases held by either the police criminal records or databases held by others.
The other source of information is the good old 'tip-off'.

A cautionary tale: a police officer friend of mine had the job of supervising convicted sex offenders who have to register their whereabouts and travel intentions. One particular character who had always been awkward. He was regularly reminded that he had to notify any intention to travel abroad so grudgingly provided some travel details: he was going to 'Vegas with his girlfriend and family to get married. Expecting (correctly) this individual to fail to declare his previous conviction upon entry to the US, the individuals details were forwarded to the FBI who presumably passed them on to the US Immigration authorities. Sure enough, as expected, "our friend" didn't admit he had any convictions, was selected by US Immigration for a few further questions.....and refused entry.

So, questions to ask yourself:
1) Am I a "usual suspect" and going to be on a database?
2)Is there any reason to believe they'd pick my name from the passenger list as someone of interest, might I beconfused with someone else they'd be interested in (what, with a wife and kids in tow..)?
3) Am I a sex offender who has mightily pee'd off his supervising officer...!
4) Don't let the wife wear a burkha.

I hope none of the above apply!
 
#18
Bit of advice added to the rest you've been given, if by any
chance your traveling with your children, but not the other Parent, have a letter from the other parent of the child/children giving their consent for the family to be traveling with you, I took my youngest to the states a couple of years ago and got awful grief because 1, My child and I had different surnames (I didn't bother changing my surname on my passport when I got married) 2,I didn't have a letter of consent on me from my husband to say I had his permission to take the child out of the country. I nearly got refused entry, I think that the only thing that saved me was my daughters name had been on my passport and even though she had her own passport, it was clear to see her name and details etc on the page, the passport office had only put a line through it when I applied for the said child's own passport. Anyway what I found out whilst in the U.S.A that when a parent is traveling on their own with their child/children on any plane interstate or international, they have to have a letter of consent from the other parent .... rant over JJ
 

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