I am about to apply for a visa to visit the US for a friend's graduation this summer. I am a non-eu national living and working in the UK.

As part of the application, I need to check a box indicating if I have any arrests, criminal convictions etc.

I don't have a criminal record but I have ever been issued a fine for a driving offense. The charge was posted to me and I was to be arraigned before court but I had moved house when the charge sheet was posted so did not receive it. A warrant was issued for my arrest and I had the police calling to inform me. I turned up at the police station and was processed for court that morning where I was fined by the judge - it was an issue with misunderstanding over how insurance works in the UK and it was on a car I was purchasing, nothing criminal.

To prevent any misunderstanding at the US visa office, I was looking at getting a police certificate but that form is just too long and frighteningly difficult to fill.

My question therefore is if a driving misdemeanor constitutes a criminal offense and if it's worth the gamble applying for a tourist visa without a police certificate.

[Sorry for the lengthy question]

  • Does the application specifically exclude misdemeanors and/or traffic offenses from having to be listed? The problem is, even if it did, your failure to appear (whether your actual fault or not) caused a warrant to be issued for your arrest which may have made it a criminal issue, even if that was resolved by your subsequent surrender.
    – tubedogg
    Aug 28 '16 at 0:53

From a US Embassy website:

If you have a minor traffic offense which did not result in an arrest and/or conviction you may travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, provided you are otherwise qualified. If you are not sure whether or not you are eligible to travel visa free, the only way to resolve this question is to apply for a visa.

However, as you mentioned, you did briefly have a warrant for your arrest. That causes a small wrinkle, but these lawyers describe the conditions well:

For ESTA, having an arrest warrant "normally won’t provided that you pass the requirements of the ‘ESTA’; or Electronic System for Travel Authorization."

ESTA asks:

"Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or have been arrested or convicted for two or more offences for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or have been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?"

So as an unpaid traffic fine is not under this, you'll be ok.

(note, I am not a lawyer, I just quote their websites)

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