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ESTA Applications

Queensland...
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ESTA Applications

Just wondering if anyone has applied for an ESTA that had been arrested before but not charged? I have sent an email to the Esta email but the delay for response is 2-3 weeks

Southampton, United...
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1. Re: ESTA Applications

This is a difficult one.

I've seen answers on another forum where people have said they answered no to the question 'have you ever been arrested' because they had not been charged and got away with it. And other stories of people being refused entry when they got to immigration.

My son was in a position where he had been arrested for a smash and grab on a motorbike and held for 12 hours. It had been nothing to do with him. He had been on his motorbike in the area, unaware of the incident, and someone took down his registration. The guys where caught months later.

My son was refused an ESTA when applying. It cost a fair bit in time, hassle and money getting proof he had no criminal record and an interview at the American Embassy in London. He ended up with a Visa. I think it was for 10 years.

It runs out in about 4 years so I'm assuming he will have to go through the process again.

I'd be interested to know other traveller's experiences.

Sandra b

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2. Re: ESTA Applications

It's a rather stupid question isn't it. "Arrested" means different things in different contexts in different countries. And arrested is not the same as detained.

What is important is whether there is any record of the arrest on a system somewhere. If a police officer used the words "I'm placing you under arrest on suspicion of X" there is going to be a record of that somewhere. If you are subsequently "dearrested" (ie after questioning etc.) you are released, then you should take steps to ensure that the arrest is expunged from your record. Then you can answer no.

If you are charged and acquitted, it's more problematic. You were arrested and that arrest was valid, you were just not convicted. So you have to answer yes. Obviously the same if you were actually convicted.

The ESTA program really is just for straightforward cases. If in doubt, check with your local US embassy or consular office (don't bother with the ESTA email). They will give you an answer and if you do need to apply for a visa it's one less call to make.

Liverpool, UK
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3. Re: ESTA Applications

The specific question on the ESTA is as follows

"B) Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?"

If you can answer No to that question then you can apply for an ESTA and it should be granted subject to your other answers - a Yes answer will probably lead to the application being rejected meaning you need a visa.

Chicago
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4. Re: ESTA Applications

I would so love to see someone answer, yes, I am seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities....

London, United...
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5. Re: ESTA Applications

I know someone who was arrested in the US for a drink driving matter, but paid a fine and the case did not proceed, and there was no court record. But still answered yes because he had after all been arrested. Went visa route, got one, best to be honest

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6. Re: ESTA Applications

Similarly I know someone who was arrested for fishing without a licence in the US (he was only holding the rod for somebody for a few moments when the Fisheries boat came around the bend!). He also just paid a fine, so no court case. He too had to get a visa for his next trip.

Liverpool, UK
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7. Re: ESTA Applications

I seem to recall although I might be wrong that there was a very general ESTA question about arrests and/or convictions but the only question on the ESTA application relating to arrests is that I outlined earlier in post #3.

I don't know but they might have revised the ESTA application so there is no longer any reference to arrests for minor offences.

Apart from personal information the other ESTA application questions relate to Health, Work, Custody of Children and Immunity from Prosecution issues.

London, UK
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8. Re: ESTA Applications

warriorjan - I've heard that someone once wrote ''sole purpose of visit' in response to the 'are you seeking to engage in criminal or immoral activities?' question on an old visa waiver entry form, which I've always thought was comic genius, although perhaps not very sensible. It may be an urban myth of course.

Edited: 6:03 am, July 30, 2014
Southampton, United...
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9. Re: ESTA Applications

Re my post 1

I rang the Embassy in London explaining that though arrested he was released and he had proof of no criminal record.

I was told he needed a Visa.

We didn't want to risk turning up and not getting in so that's what he did.

I wish question B wasn't such a blanket question. "have you ever been arrested or........" . Not, arrested and convicted. And I reckon 'aggravated robbery' would come under 'moral turpitude'.

So to answer the ESTA questions honestly his answer had to be, yes.

Sandra b

Edited: 6:44 am, July 30, 2014
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10. Re: ESTA Applications

Moral turpitude dates back to the 19th Century. It is "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals."

So that's a pretty wide net! It does include robbery, burglary etc.

Edited: 6:47 am, July 30, 2014