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For the US visa application process, they ask for arrests. I had an encounter with the police when I was in my very early teens and not sure if I was formally arrested - I certainly wasn't charged with anything.

Do I need to declare this given I have had several ESTAs in the past without any problems?

Also, if they do count it as an arrest, will this mean I won't be eligible for ESTAs in the future?

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Do I need to declare this given I have had several ESTAs in the past without any problems?

Technically you might possibly already have violated US law by not declaring it. As you can testify, however, the US won't know about your case unless you run your mouth, meaning it will be safe for you to keep visiting visa-free.

Realistically speaking, honesty is not always the best solution, and in this case would only serve to trap you in a web which could be a hell to get out of. This is a prime example of just that

So indeed, technically you might need to get visas for the rest of your life and declare your past in the form. In practice, though, you can keep going as usual and simply make sure not to spend too much time within short periods in the US.

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    You don't have enough information to know whether OP has violated US law by not declaring the incident with the police. ESTA asks only about arrests "for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority"; the DS-160 question is broader. On top of that, there's the possibility that the "encounter with the police" doesn't count as an arrest for the purpose of either question. We don't have enough information to know that, either. – phoog Feb 22 '18 at 17:25
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    @phoog Totally true, dunno how I forgot about the first point. – Crazydre Feb 22 '18 at 17:29
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    @JonathanReez If the US does know, then they're fine with it, as again OP has been to the US visa-free and the incident was many years ago. – Crazydre Feb 22 '18 at 17:56
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    J visa as a exchange student. For 6 months. The more I read the less I think my encounter (whether it was an arrest or not) qualifies. I think I'll not tell them. hub.unlock.org.uk/knowledgebase/… – bobmcpop Feb 22 '18 at 18:31
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    @bobmcpop No it's not – Crazydre Feb 22 '18 at 21:55

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