esta with criminal records

Can I be approved for Esta if I have a criminal record?

Esta approvation with criminal record? No problem!

One of the most common reasons for rejection of Esta by the American authorities is having a criminal record for crimes of different nature and severity. The assessment of the eligibility is connected to the type of crime committed, when it happened (if the crime is recent or not) and the age of the perpetrator at the time of the crime.

The questions found in the application form concerning a criminal record are two. Below is a detailed explanation of their meaning and what they entail

Learn how obtain an Esta approvation with criminal record

Question 1: Have you ever been in detention for a criminal action or sentenced for a criminal action which caused material damage to an individual or a government entity?

This question is for those who have been convicted of crimes or have been arrested and  have served a prison sentence and it encompasses almost all the serious crimes (1st degree murder, manslaughter, serious assault, robbery, kidnapping, rape, child abuse, spousal assault, bigamy, simple theft, burglary, fraud against persons or state bodies, possession of stolen goods, corruption, tax evasion, etc.) Answering yes leads, almost always, to the rejection of the ESTA application and dictates that the applicant is interviewed at the embassy to assess the possibility to obtain a B1 or B2 visa.

Question 2: Have you ever violated any laws on the possession, use, or sale of illegal drugs?

This question relates to drug crimes, from sale to possession of illegal drugs and for which the applicant has been convicted or is being tried. If the applicant is still awaiting a sentence (i.e. they have not been convicted), has not been convicted before and does not have a criminal record, only then will they be able to answer NO to the question. In all other cases, they will need to answer YES, which almost always determines a rejection of ESTA and dictates that the applicant is interviewed at the embassy to assess the possibility to obtain a B1 or B2 visa.

There are some minor convictions which render it possible to answer NO to the question on crimes. They are as follows:

  • Driving under the influence: having a criminal record for driving under the influence, for the American authorities, does not constitute a serious crime, provided the applicant was not convicted for alcohol-related crimes which led to serious damage to goods or persons. Therefore, if the crime is only limited to driving under the influence, it will be possible to answer NO to the question on crimes contained in the form, while in all other cases it will be necessary to answer YES and it will lead to a rejection of ESTA.
  • Simple assault: if it is a verbal assault or a simple fight that did not cause damage to goods or people, the ESTA applicant could also answer NO to the question concerning pending charges 
  • Suspended sentence and Served sentence: in this case it still amounts to a conviction and the type of crime must be assessed as described above

If you need further info and clarifications