Are you planning to visit the US? It is important you familiarize yourself with the requirements of each traveler entering the United States. Besides, the US includes strict entry. To ease the visa-acquiring process, the US government introduced the Electronic System for Travel Authorization(ESTA) for citizens from specific countries. Therefore, you will not have to acquire a visa if you qualify for an ESTA.
One of the important questions you will be asked when applying for an ESTA includes whether you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. Usually, the system will decline an ESTA application for persons having criminal records. But you could still travel to the US with a criminal record.
This article provides all the information you need to know about traveling to the US with a criminal record.
What Criminal Records Can Cause My ESTA to be Declined?
Normally, an individual having a criminal record will not be allowed to enter the US territory since they are considered a risk to the US government and its citizens. Consequently, your Hawaii visa application could be declined following a criminal record. However, ESTA denial is usually based on the type of criminal record you have.
This follows as different criminal offenses are treated in different ways. For instance, minor traffic offenses without conviction cannot interfere with your ESTA or visa application. Since there is no definite list of acceptable criminal convictions, each application is processed according to the available information.
Further, there is no exact timeline for criminal records to no longer affect the results of your ESTA application. Every application is assessed depending on the severity. However, considerations may sometimes be made if the conviction happened considerably earlier.
Who is Eligible for an ESTA Application?
You can apply for an ESTA if you plan to visit the US for business or a vacation. But, your stay must not exceed 90 days. Again, you must be citizens of countries listed under the visa waiver program, like the UK. If your planned trip exceeds 90 days, you must ensure you get the relevant visa type, like permanent residency or a working visa.
The good news is that the ESTA application is usually done online and only takes a few minutes to complete. The application involves simple steps with quick travel authorization document processing time.
What Should I Do if My ESTA is Declined?
ESTA applications can be declined based on many issues, not only criminal convictions. But you can reapply after ten days if your application is rejected. Remember, the circumstances under which your ESTA application was declined should have changed. Otherwise, it will still be rejected. Some reasons that could lead to your application being declined include providing incorrect information or overstaying the time on your previous ESTA visa.
Alternatively, you can apply for a US visa if you reapply for an ESTA and it is still declined. This will require you to make an appointment at the US Embassy for an interview.
Also read: Essential Details to Guide You Apply for ETIAS with Criminal Record and Travel Hassle-Free