Can I go on holiday to America with a criminal record from Ireland?

The United States of America operates with a visa system, which is there to protect US citizens and the security policies in place are stricter than most other countries. When people wish to visit the US, they must apply for a visa and will be screened to assess whether they are deemed to represent a risk to the US and US citizens.

Can you apply for ESTA with a criminal conviction?

One of the eligibility questions within the ESTA application relates to any past criminal convictions and if the applicant does have a criminal conviction, the ESTA will be denied on that basis. However, there is still an option to apply for a tourist visa for the US (B-2) to have the case reviewed by the US embassy.

Applying for a US visa with a criminal conviction

As with the ESTA, one aspect of the visa security screening is related to whether the applicant has any criminal convictions and in many cases, if the applicant does have a historical criminal conviction then their application for a tourist visa could be denied.

Many people who want to visit the US and have a criminal conviction are trying to find out whether they will be able to go on holiday to America with a criminal record and there is no definite answer to this question, as different types of convictions are treated in different ways.

The official guidance on the US embassy website for Irish citizens with criminal convictions states:

“If you have ever been arrested, cautioned and/or convicted of an offense anywhere in the world, you are required to declare it when applying for a visa. In cases where an arrest resulted in a conviction, you may be permanently ineligible to receive a visa and will require a waiver ineligibility to travel to the United States.”

What to do if you have a criminal conviction in Ireland?

If you want to visit the US but have a criminal conviction in Ireland, you are required to obtain an Irish Police Certificate that has been issued within six months of the date of your visa interview at the US embassy. In order to do this, you need to submit an application at the Garda Siochana station. The certificate will include the applicant’s name, address and date of birth along with details of any criminal convictions.

The details provided in the Irish Police Certificate will be reviewed at the US embassy to decide whether the conviction is going to prevent the US authorities from issuing the visa.

Which criminal convictions affect your US visa application?

The list of crimes that will cause a visa application to be denied is long but these include murder, manslaughter, rape, gross indecency, serious assault and kidnapping. It also includes crimes against property e.g. arson, burglary, fraud.

Controlled substance violations are also included as crimes that will lead to an application being denied. There are many more crimes that will result in a denied US visa application but the best course of action is to attend an interview at the US embassy to check your situation if you want to visit the US.


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