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Howard, Immigration Lawyer
Category: UK Immigration Law
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Experience:  Senior Partner with nearly 20 years experience in UK Immigration Law.
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I want to visit my daughter and newborn grandson in the UK.

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I want to visit my daughter and newborn grandson in the UK. I have a conviction for Aggravated Battery in 2005 but the sentence was suspended and I was placed on 10 years probation. I was released from probation at 5 years in November of 2010.
The UK Border Agency site says they 'strongly recommend' a visa for any 'unspent convictions', a category into which I fall. However, they do not say I 'must' obtain a visa for any unspent convictions.
I don't want to get a visa because of the expense and hassle. I am thinking of just going to England and showing up at Heathrow and seeing what happens. It's pretty costly and inconvenient to all parties concerned to them to turn me around. I do have a letter of support from my daughter who is married to a British National. I will also have a letter from my mental health professional who will say that it is in my best mental health interest to visit my family.
I will be accompanied by my wife of 30+ years.
My passport is active. I am completely off probation with a spotless record since 2010. In fact, since my arrest in 2000 and my plea to Agg. Battery in 2005, I have a spotless record both before my arrest and since.
I am a retired physician. The Aggravated elevation was due to a breach of Patient-Physician relationship. At no point was there force, violence, weaponry, etc. The actual charge was "Hypno-Rape" a crime that does not exist. In fact, the State pled with the court to drop all felony charges and change them to Misdemeanors, but due to local media and politics and the fact that the DA and Judge were both up for re-election the Judge would not accept Misdemeanors. Of course the Clearance Officer reviewing my visa application is free to check all this out and will find that it is all absolutely true. Will they do that? I don't know. Will they spend the time to thoroughly check out all the information I proffer? No idea. That's where you come in.
Except for the conviction I am able to meet all their other family visitor visa requirements including bringing enough money
Your area of expertise needs to be in UK visas to give me an answer that is helpful. So please take your time and get this to an individual who has expertise in the area of UK visas and 'criminal activity' so that I can get an answer that is truly 'expert'. My urgency is low so take your time. If you need to wait a few days and send this around to other lawyers who can answer this specifically, with expertise, accuracy and experience, I am fine with that.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The only person that can answer this question with absolute authority would be a UK Visa/ Immigration Solicitor. If none is available then I wouldn't waste your time. It would be sheer guesswork without the Solicitor.

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You are not going to get a definitive answer to the question - it could easily depend on the luck of the draw in terms of who is at passport control and if you are checked or any flags pop up.

Even when a visa is granted you can still be refused entry at the border. I do advise that you get the visa though - when the UKBA strongly recommend that you get a visa it means that that they equally strongly recommend that you do not try to enter without a visa. Prior approval in your situation will certainly help you gain entry. Of course you can try to simply come here and enter under visa waiver and it would be important that you had any relevant evidence on you to deal with any potential questions that may be asked.

I would not think that an argument for mental well-being resulting from seeing your family would be particularly strong - your family could come to see you to achieve the same result.

It's not a black and white situation unfortunately and so you cannot get a yes or no answer. A lot of people will simply come to the UK under visa waiver and hope for the best and a good number will be let in on the basis you have outlined in your initial post.

Not sure if this will answer your question as fully as you would like but it really isn't possible to give a 100% definitive answer.
Howard, Immigration Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 459
Experience: Senior Partner with nearly 20 years experience in UK Immigration Law.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Based on everything YOU know. What would YOU do?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

In addition, to help me decide whether to roll the dice, what % of people are 'turned back' and denied entry with criminal records such as mine?

And if declined entry what happens next?

Do they pay for my return flight?

Do I need to pay for my return flight which would be astronomic at the last minute?

Do I get to appeal to another agent in the airport and then sit down to discuss my specific situation?

Since my wife will be with me, what is the likelihood that they will break us apart and allow her in and send me home?


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If I read you right, a visa does not add much to the entry process. Again, if I read you right, it depends on the 'mood' of the EOC.

What % of individuals WITH a visa are denied entry as opposed to the % without a visa?

That is a tricky question.

I would be inclined to apply for the visa. If approved then it really does hugely decrease the chances of problems on entry. If you can deal with issues before they become issues (cut them off at the pass, so to speak) then it is worth doing.

On the other hand, if the application is refused then of course this would create a significant issue and the chance of simply entering under visa waiver would then be hugely reduced.

The sensible thing to do and the right thing to do is to get the visa first. I would be inclined to do this. When the Home Office strongly advise something it means that they would require it if they could but they will; still reserve the right to refuse entry and they might do so.

With regard to the further questions posted:

You should have a return ticket anyway and that would usually be used to return you. Not having a return ticket is a great way to be refused entry and you would pay for your return.

I am not sure what percentage would be refused and getting the reasons for refusal to make the refusal rate mean anything would be difficult.

You would be interviewed and have the chance to state your case and show whatever evidence you have before being refused entry.