I’m a British citizen with a UK criminal record for aggravated assault back in 2011, hoping to enter the US for tourism. Anyone in similar situation who can advise on my entry eligibility?

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    @Reece I suspect the advice may be that you need to apply for a visa. Voted to re-open
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 8:36
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    There are several factors that affect your eligibility, including (if I recall correctly) whether you were under 18, the maximum possible sentence for the offense for which you were convicted, and, depending on the maximum sentence, whether you have other convictions (which includes guilty pleas, confusingly). But I don't remember the details and I don't have time to look it up just now. Hopefully someone else can help, or find the duplicate question that must be here somewhere, but it will go more quickly if you can add some details.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 15:09
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    This answer gives you the information you need about ineligibilities. travel.stackexchange.com/questions/86857/… You need to use the categorical approach to compare the elements of your UK crime to determine if it’s a CIMT etc. ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/…. I advise you prepare this yourself or with an attorney and have it ready for your visa interview. Basically do the consular officers work for him/her. Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 15:32
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    If possible wait till after January before applying because in theory the expected new government will be more sympathetic to immigration issues. Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 15:37
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    @Doc The Trump administration has been hostile to even nonimmigrants. You simply lack that information. You can Google the number of visitors who have had their visas voided on arrival and the drop-off in nonimmigrant visa approvals. Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


The process is clear, your chances of actually being allowed travel are not. It will likely take at least 6 months for you to obtain an answer on whether you can travel, and realistically there is no way to be sure other than to go through the process.

The process is :

  • (Optional) Apply for an ESTA. One of the questions you will need to answer is "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?" which, based on your question, you will need to answer as "Yes"

  • Your ESTA will almost certainly be denied. If by some chance it is approved, then you are free to travel to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program, but the odds of this happening are almost zero.

  • After you ESTA is denied, you will need to apply for a B2 (tourist) visa at your local US consulate. At the present time (October 2020) this will likely not be possible as most consulates are closed due to COVID, but once they re-open you will be able to book an appointment and go through the normal visa application process which again includes a question similar to the one above which you will need to answer Yes to.

  • Your visa application will most likely be denied. Technically it will depend on the exact offence you were found guilty for, but "aggravated assault" will almost certainly result in a denial. Technically this conviction results in you being "ineligible" to enter the US, so the consulate staff themselves have very little discretion in this decision - it's not that they are deciding if you are allowed enter or not, it's that the law says you are not and they can not override that fact.

  • The consulate staff will allow you to apply for a "Waiver of Ineligibility". This is mostly a hands-off process for you, and will result in your application being forwarded to staff in the Department of State in the US. Based on factors including the crime itself, the time since the crime occurred, any subsequent crimes you've been arrested for, etc, they will make a decision as to whether they are willing to waive your ineligibility and allow a visa to be issued. This process will take at least several months, often 6 months or more.

  • If your "Waiver of Ineligibility" is approved, you will be given a visa - although possibly one with a shorter than normal expiry (eg, 1 year rather than 10). If it is denied, you will not be issued a visa.

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    I concur with Doc's answer, but will comment on the first bullet point. The elements of "aggravated assault" may not actually constitute "serious damage to property" or "serious damage to another person" or "serious harm to another person or government authority." Still, they may check your record, and the name of the crime is a large red flag. Even if the elements don't constitute the damages or injury asked about, you should disclose the violation and, if reasonable, point out that the injuries asked about did not occur. Be factual and calm, so as not to be seen as avoidant. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 0:52
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    My understanding is that allowing an application for a waiver is discretionary. If that is true, the verb in the penultimate bullet point should probably be "may."
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 14:04

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