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Entry Denied! How a Criminal Conviction can affect your travel plans

April 27, 2017 by in category Drink Driving, Drug Driving, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Drink Driving > Entry Denied! How a Criminal Conviction can affect your travel plans
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When faced with a drink driving charge or another criminal conviction, many people don’t realise the lasting consequences other than a fine, disqualification from driving, or worst case scenario a custodial sentence. A brief transgression can end up costing much more than your driving licence. When convicted of a criminal offence, entrance into foreign countries can become significantly more difficult. Whether you plan to travel for business, education, or pleasure, ensuring that you will be able to obtain a visa or entry into the country ahead of time is essential. So, what does a criminal conviction mean for the British businessperson/student/tourist who wishes to travel or needs to work in the most popular destinations of the United States, Australia, or Canada?

United States of America

Drink Driving criminal conviction can stop you travelling to the USAPerhaps the most difficult country to enter if you have a criminal conviction, the United States requires you to apply for a visa if you have ever been arrested, even if it didn’t lead to a criminal conviction!

Travellers seeking to enter the United States for business or tourism for less than 90 days may be eligible to travel in the United States visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. This, however, does not apply to travellers who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, those with criminal records, (the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to U.S. visa law), certain serious communicable illnesses, and those who have been refused admission into, or have been deported from the United States, or have previously overstayed on the VWP are not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.

If you have a minor traffic offence which did not result in an arrest/conviction you may travel visa free in the United States. Ultimately, if you are wondering if you can travel visa free, the only way to resolve this question is to apply for a visa.

With a Criminal Conviction

In cases where an arrest did result in a conviction, you may find yourself permanently ineligible to receive a visa to enter the United States, and to travel a waiver will be required of you.

You will need to be interviewed, as the US Embassy deals with cases on an individual basis. With this interview, you will also need to fill out a Personal Data Sheet where you will need to include details about your arrests/cautions/convictions. This form must be completed electronically. Finally, applicants applying for a visa at the US Embassy in London are required to provide a police certificate from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Criminal Records Office (ACRO) issued within 6 months of the date of the visa interview. The whole process will take around 14 weeks and cost around £150-£160.

All information on the process and eligibility can be found on the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom’s website.

However, we recommend you also seek advice from a suitable immigration law specialist and can recommend that you contact Daniel Parisi a UK based attorney who is currently Chair of American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Department of State Liaison Committee.


Drink Driving criminal conviction can stop you travelling to AustraliaIf you wish to visit Australia as either a tourist or on business, you may apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). These usually are usually granted quite easily, unless you happen to have a criminal conviction. All potential migrants to Australia must have their character assessed as part of the visa grant process. During this process, applicants must declare if they have a criminal record, regardless of the offence or how long ago it was occurred. An applicant must prove they are of good character, an applicant can fail this test if:

  • They have a substantial criminal record;
  • they have, or have had, an association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct;
  • having regard to the person’s past and present criminal conduct, the person is found not to be of good character, and;
  • having regard to the person’s past and present general conduct, the person is found to be not of good character;
  • there is a significant risk that the person will engage in criminal conduct in Australia, harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person in Australia, vilify a segment of the Australian community, or incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.

Substantial Criminal Record

A person is deemed to have a substantial criminal record if they have been:

  • sentenced to either death or life imprisonment
  • sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more
  • sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment (whether on one or more occasions), where the total of those terms is two years or more
  • acquitted of an offence on the grounds of either unsoundness of mind or insanity and, thus, the person has been detained in a facility or institution.

Though drink driving or motoring offences may delay your application to Australia, a conviction is unlikely to prevent you from obtaining your visa.


Drink Driving criminal conviction can stop you travelling to CanadaUnder Canadian immigration law, if you have committed or been convicted of a crime, you may not be allowed into Canada.  This can include both minor and serious crimes such as:

  • theft,
  • assault,
  • manslaughter
  • dangerous driving,
  • driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and
  • possession of or trafficking in drugs or controlled substances.

If, however, you committed an offence while under the age of 18, you may still be able to enter Canada.

Canada does set out quite an exhaustive list of criteria of what you can do if you are found guilty of a conviction and wish to obtain a visa as follows:

Do note, that this is only a guide. A Canadian immigration officer will decide if you can enter Canada when you apply for a visa, an Electronic Travel Authorization, or when you arrive at a port of entry.

If you are travelling abroad or looking to enter one of these countries, leave yourself time to look up their visa requirements or contact their consulates in the United Kingdom if you have questions about whether you can travel to their country or not.

To many of our clients a criminal record is the primary concern they have, especially if travel restrictions could affect a job or lifestyle choice long-term. We strongly believe that being armed with information is important before you make a decision about the way forwards with your case and urge anyone facing prosecution to contact us further about how we can help.

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