Planning for short-term visits to the United States but have previous convictions?
Since January 12, 2009 as mandated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the online ESTA travel authorization system has been used by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers from the 36 participating countries wanting to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a United States visa.
All VWP travelers arriving by U.S.-bound airplane or vessel, regardless of their country of origination or port of embarkation, are now required to obtain a travel authorization via online submission of ESTA forms prior to traveling to the United States under the VWP.
ESTA America is an automated system that is designed to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. The same information collected on Form I-94W are collected in the ESTA application, which may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended travelers apply when they begin preparing travel plans.
Unless revoked, each travel authorization under ESTA is valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until the expiration of your current passport, whichever comes first. This travel authorization will enable the VWP travelers to a combined maximum stay in the USA and its surrounding countries of ninety days, regardless of how long a traveler actually intends to stay in the USA.
However, if you plan on traveling visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, do be aware that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to U.S. visa law. Therefore, even travelers with a spent conviction, regardless of when it may have occurred, must be declared.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of an offense, you are required to apply for a USA visa application.
Unless, you have committed only one crime while you are still under 18 years of age, and the crime was committed (and released from any confinement to a prison or correctional institution imposed for the crime) more than 5 years before the date that you applied to enter the US or apply for a visa and the maximum penalty possible for the crime of which you were convicted (or which admits having committed) did not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if you were convicted of such crime, you were not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of 6 months (regardless of the extent to which the sentence was ultimately executed), then you can still travel to the U.S. visa free using the visa waiver program via ESTA.
When completing the ESTA online form, just respond no to the question in the last section that asks if a traveler has ever been arrested or convicted of an offense or crime involving moral turpitude, since a single conviction, occurring more than 5 years before you applied is an exemption under Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
But take note, make sure you don’t do any criminal acts or offenses while in the US or else your passage in the US won’t be as easy.
National Visas – Your online assistance for your United States visa application and United States ESTA inquiries. By filling out the ESTA applications, getting an ESTA America visa is always within your reach.