Does a Criminal Record Exclude Me from the US Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of 38 specific countries to travel to the United States of America for as long as 90 days for business or pleasure without the need for a tourist visa.
If you have a Passport from one of the following countries, then you are eligible for the VWP: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom (UK).
In order to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program (V.W.P.) all eligible travelers must apply for authorization and pay a small fee. As part of the application process, the US Department of Homeland Security's Electronic System for Travel Authorization asks the following questions:
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a violation related to a controlled substance?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to jail was five years or more?
- Have you ever been a controlled substance trafficker?
- Are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?
These questions must be answered accurately, and not telling the truth on your application can lead to a significant ban from the United States.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, then you must answer "Yes" to this question, which will make you inadmissible for visa-free entry to the U.S. via the VWP. Answering "Yes" to any of the other questions will also result in you no longer being eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, and attempting to
enter US soil through the program will consequently result in you being denied entry to US and flown back to your country of origin if you are at an American airport. Being ineligible for visa-free entry does not always mean you are
inadmissible to the United States, however, and in many cases you simply need to apply for a B-1 business visa or B-2 holiday visa to legally visit the USA. If your criminal record does make you inadmissible to the United States, USA Entry Waivers allow foreigners with a criminal history to ask for special permission for US entry.
Concerned about traveling under the USA Visa Waiver Program with a criminal arrest or conviction? Contact us today for a free consultation!