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Few years ago I have applied for a US visa. I wanted to go there for a weekend with friends or for vacation. It didn't work out, some years have passed and recently I have convicted a felony (nothing special, nothing criminal, but it stays in my "papers"). I'm in a position where I could go there for a weekend, but I am too afraid of going to be put on the plane back during visa check or whatever. Is there any way I could verify if I can still get there for a weekend trip?

  • To confirm, you currently have a valid visa? And you want to now travel to the US using that visa, but you now have a felony conviction that you didn't have when you got your visa? – Midavalo Oct 24 '17 at 14:18
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    Isn't a felony criminal by definition? – gerrit Oct 24 '17 at 15:11
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    @gerrit yes, felony is one category of criminal offense. – phoog Oct 24 '17 at 15:17
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    I'm not 100% sure the OP understands the English legal meaning of felony. That would imply serious tax evasion that would ordinarily have resulted in a large fine or imprisonment. "Nothing special, nothing criminal" sounds more like a civil assessment of unpaid tax. A more precise statement of the offense charged would be helpful. – Andrew Lazarus Oct 24 '17 at 20:36
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    @Krystian in US law, a judge can preside over a civil trial and impose civil penalties which are typically fines. It sounds like your case fits that model more closely than the criminal model. – phoog Oct 25 '17 at 8:53
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You have a valid US visa, but you are concerned that you may have become inadmissible since the visa was issued. You would like to have a better sense of whether you will be allowed into the US.

As other answers have noted, there is no way to guarantee that you will be admitted. An immigration officer at the border can always deny admission. But there are some things you can do to reduce the probability of being denied admission at the border.

1. Learn the rules

Evaluate yourself against the statutory grounds of inadmissibility, which are set forth at 8 USC 1182. You are concerned about criminal grounds of inadmissibility, so you should look at section (a)(2). There you will find that grounds of inadmissibility include "crimes involving moral turpitude" (CIMTs). An internet search indicates that CIMTs include fraud, and a "tax related" conviction such as yours certainly could have involved fraud. Nonetheless, there is an exception if there is only one conviction and the maximum sentence you faced was one year imprisonment or less and your actual sentence was six months imprisonment or less. If your conviction does trigger this section, you can apply for a waiver under sections (a)(2)(F) and (h).

2. Consider using preclearance

Travel to the US through an airport with preclearance facilities. This reduces the severity of the consequences of a denial of admission.

3. Apply for a new visa

Apply for a new visa, revealing the details of your conviction. Your admissibility will be evaluated by the visa officer. While the immigration officer will still make a second determination of admissibility at the border, the determination is unlikely to be different from the visa officer's.

None of these suggestions is actually necessary, and none will guarantee that you will get into the US, but they may give you some peace of mind.

  • thanks a lot, this really gives me a lot to think of. I was not imprisoned or anything. It's tax related as in taxes were not paid (I had a tough moment with my business, couldn't pay taxes for a while). I think the best option would really be to go through Dublin (it's the only airport in Europe that I know of, which has the preclearance) and do it this way. Thanks a lot for all of the suggestions. – Krystian Oct 25 '17 at 8:23
  • @Krystian if your nonpayment of taxes did not involve fraud, then it seems like you might be fine. A US visa officer in your country would be more familiar with your country's tax laws. In the US, a felony is typically a crime for which the maximum sentence is a year or more, so you may want to reevaluate whether you should be using that word to describe your history. Also, in the US, nonpayment of taxes is typically a civil matter rather than criminal, which also suggests that you may be okay. – phoog Oct 25 '17 at 8:50
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You really could not know until you get there. Too many variables in the game.

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No.

Even if you have a visa, it is up to border officials to decide whether to let you in or not. A visa does not guarantee they will let you in.

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