Please note: In January 2015, the site was re-structured. The ‘Frequently asked questions’ section has been moved, with the content of each subject being transferred into the information subject on that subject.

Please search for the relevant information section, where you’ll find the FAQ’s relating to that subject.

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I have an old conviction for a minor offence. Given the US authorities don't have access to the PNC, why should I disclose my convictions?
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Many people with convictions travel to the US every year from the UK, they do not disclose their convictions, and they travel without any issues. However, to do this, you will need to lie as part of the ESTA application process (to travel under the Visa Waiver Programme), and by doing this you are potentially committing a criminal offence under US law.  We are not aware of anybody that has been prosecuted for this, but we are aware of instances where individuals have been questioned by officials and sent back to the UK on the next flight (at their own cost).  If your visit was for business, it may have implications on your future employment. Not having the correct documentation and not knowing what would happen if you were questioned can be extremely worrying. For those who travel for a holiday, the anxiety could ruin your trip. If you think that it is better for you to lie of the ESTA application form, you need to be prepared to continue this lie if you are questioned on a face to face basis. This could be quite a frightening experience.

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How likely is it that I will get a Visa to travel to the US?
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We get mixed reports from people about their experience of the US Visa process. It’s undoubtedly quite a time-consuming process, and can feel quite intrusive. There are also no clear guidelines available to the public on how the US Embassy will make their decision, so it’s hard to know whether you will be successful until you actually apply. From our experience, much will depend on the person that deals with your case, and how you present yourself at the interview you have at the Embassy. Ultimately, if you decide that you will need to apply for a Visa, you’ve got nothing to lose by applying. We certainly hear of many people who have been successful in getting a Visa, and these include a range of convictions and length of time ago.

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Will the country/place I'm travelling to be notified of my sexual conviction?
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This would normally only occur if you travelled without prior notification or in breach of a foreign travel order preventing you from travelling outside the UK – therefore, committing a further offence.  In the event you had fulfilled your commitment to notify (and therefore travelled with implied permission) there should be no reason for UK police to disclose your conviction or communicate with foreign law enforcement.  There is currently only limited routine sharing of criminal record information across states; primarily within the EU.

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What do the terms ‘No Trace’ and ‘No Live Trace’ mean on my Police Certificate?
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‘No Trace’ means that you have no convictions, reprimands, final warnings, or cautions held on the Police National Computer.
‘No Live Trace’ means that there is criminal record information held on the Police National Computer but it has been ‘stepped down’. Anyone who sees this, can see that you have a criminal record from your past, even if they can’t see details.

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