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Old 17-06-2019, 11:26   #1
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Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Good afternoon all,

I lurked on these forums for years before travelling to the USVI/BVI several years back on a week long charter. It was a fantastic experience and it's got me and my wife hooked on sailing. I've found almost everything I can imagine on this forum by browsing and haven't needed to post but I can't seem to find anything on my current question, so I registered. Forgive me for coming right out of the gate asking for help instead of offering advice.

Since our USVI/BVI travels several years ago, I've been ready to book another charter but have a question that has been giving me pause. At this point, we are looking to fly into STT, stay a few nights in St John, then ferry to Road Town and island hop a little from there.

Here's my question- and I apologize if it's a repeat of a prior question but I didn't dig anything up via the "Search" -

Two years ago, I received a non-violent (also, non-drug related) Class C Misdemeanor in Texas. This is the lowest level of misdemeanor in Texas and is only punishable by a fine. (I'm happy to elaborate more via PM if anyone thinks more detail may help.)

Either way, I would hate to go about booking this trip if there is a possibility of getting turned around when I enter Tortola.

Obviously, the safest thing to do would be to apply for a tourist visa to enter the BVI beforehand but the only way I've found to do this requires it be in-person. Since I am no where close to the BVI geographically, this helps me very little.

I am a passport holding US citizen and have no other criminal history. We've traveled to the BVI 3x before but those were all before the most recent issues. Any help or advice here on how to proceed?

Thank you!
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Old 17-06-2019, 12:01   #2
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Fly to St Thomas, take the ferry to BVI, have a Plan B option.
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Old 17-06-2019, 12:24   #3
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

contact BVI customs and ask?
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Old 17-06-2019, 12:29   #4
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

BVI customs doesn’t do any background checks. In fact, you’ll be one of the lucky ones if they actually look at your picture in your passport. They are too busy watching YouTube and playing on Facebook to care.
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Old 17-06-2019, 13:29   #5
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

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Originally Posted by Pete17C View Post
contact BVI customs and ask?
Hello Pete. I've called BVI immigration - I should've indicated that in my original post. They indicated that I needed to send all of my documentation to an e-mail address for absolute confirmation.

Here's the rub - I was originally given a more serious offense which was totally bogus. I got an attorney involved and he very easily got the charged lowered to a Class C misdemeanor which is what the actual charge should have been the entire time. It was ridiculous that I had to get an attorney involved to get the charge to where it should've been the entire time but that's water under the bridge.

I have disposition paperwork that shows (i) the original charge, (ii) that the case was dismissed, and (iii) that I was charged with a Class C Misdemeanor instead and had to pay a fine.

I am a little afraid that if I try to submit that, BVI immigration will be confused because the disposition paperwork does show the original charge (even though it was dismissed) and will just say "NO" for an offense that is highly unlikely to even show up in their system given the level of charge. By Texas standards, a Class C misdemeanor is equivalent to a traffic citation, public intoxication, etc. It's lesser than a DUI/DWI type charge.

That said, I know some places - like Canada - are extremely intensive in their background checks. I don't believe the BVI is such a place but I'm not exactly sure what to do. I know of people with DUI/DWIs who have traveled to the BVI with no issue (and that is a more serious charge - in Texas at least - than a Class C) but it's a lot of money to invest as I will not be able to get any real refund if I proceed and am then turned away.
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Old 18-06-2019, 05:10   #6
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

FWIW, I have a few 'legal anomalies' in my past (DWI and pot possession back in my early 20s), and have traveled to the UK, EU and Canada since without a problem.

I don't know if it's because the charges were 20+ years ago, I was traveling with family, or what. But like you said, I have heard of people being refused entry for these things. (though no one personally, and no info on how often)

If you want to be sure, sounds like your going to have to send in your paperwork and hope for the best. You might try to limit what you send (maybe just a receipt for the fine paid?), but if they think your holding back, that could red flag you even if the legal issue would not have.

If you submit for pre-approval and are denied, maybe you can alter your plans to stick to the USVI and not risk losing your money.
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Old 18-06-2019, 05:32   #7
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Greetings and belated welcome aboard the CF, Cruiser.
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Old 18-06-2019, 05:49   #8
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Good day from the BVI.

I have been living & chartering in the Virgin Islands for a few years.
Upon arrival, you will be asked for your Passport. If you arrive on a private (chartered or your own) you will be asked for your vessel documents.
They will ask you why you are there, when you are leaving, where you are staying, etc.
They may be gruff, surly. This is normal.
If you don't volunteer to them you have a record, they will not know.
IF you were seeking residency, they do require a police report from your last residence.

So,
Charter a boat in the BVI.
ALWAYS great people here with 'good morning," "good day," etc..
Take the ferry Into Tortola.
Have a great time!!
(Do not over share!!)
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Old 18-06-2019, 08:30   #9
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

If it were the other way around BVI to USVI it might be a concern, but definitely not the way you are going. Do not create problems for yourself.
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Old 18-06-2019, 10:10   #10
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Well- an update. I bit the bullet and emailed BVI immigration my disposition paperwork and explained the situation. I was nervous about doing it because - as several of you have since pointed out - there was more likelihood that they would learn something they would have never known about and then say "No."

However, to my delight, I already received a response back from the Head of Immigration that said the Class C misdemeanor should not cause any problems and to enjoy our trip.

I deduce from my experience that: (1) If you are a US citizen and (2) will be a tourist for a relatively short period of time - the adherence to both of those items therefore eliminating the need for a Visa or for you to answer questions about criminal background - Class C misdemeanors aren't going to be considered.

I clearly can't speak for all criminal activity history (such as felony convictions) but I can reasonably deduce from my interactions that it's highly likely that most levels of misdemeanors are unlikely to be any issue. (I somewhat suspected that since the US/BVI have a reciprocal agreement, they are likely only going to check for outstanding warrants and felony activity but wasn't sure.)

In short, I would've been fine. For anyone now or in the future that may read this post who is concerned about travelling with a Class C (or likely any lower level misdemeanor), I can say that you are almost certainly better off taking your chances than going the route I did. I opened myself up for the possibility of being denied for something that would not have been checked for and then any type of entry for the foreseeable future would've really been a very real risk. But, in this instance, it paid off and I've now got some valuable information to share with the Board.

Thank you all.

**DISCLAIMER: Laws and rules change. The above was based on my situation in June 2019, for those that may find this post years in the future. Your mileage may very. I make no guaranties of any sort and all situations are different.
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Old 19-06-2019, 04:26   #11
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Sher.


Glad you got it (happily) sorted out, Cruiser.
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Old 19-06-2019, 08:09   #12
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Certainly the case that proactively disclosing the issue would give the impression you're more the upstanding reformed citizen than any danger to the BVI community.
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Old 19-06-2019, 17:50   #13
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

Texas sucks: everything is a "crime" in Texas. In California, your transgression would probably be defined instead as an "infraction."

If Texas didn't report you to the FBI, there's probably no way for anyone to find your official conviction record (web searches don't count) short of doing an extensive manual court record search. It's up to the arresting agency to decide whether to report your arrest to the FBI (a good reason to try to be nice to the arresting officer). If your FBI record ("rap sheet") shows an arrest for the more serious offense that was dismissed, make sure the dismissal is in their records. If not, write the court clerk and ask them to correct the record. Out of professional pride, most clerks want their reports to be accurate, and will comply (well... it's Texas... so...).

You can get a copy of your own FBI record here: https://www.edo.cjis.gov.

Note: I'm a licensed PI in California. I sometimes help people get their record corrected. There are often errors in the FBI reports because the arresting agency or the court misreported to them (the FBI itself is pretty good with their records, and if you report an error to them, they will even help steer you to the right people to get a correction).

In California (I don't know about Texas), if you serve any probation, you can have a misdemeanor conviction dismissed after you finish your probation. Or, where I've been involved, you can sometimes get a complainant to recant and get the conviction reversed entirely (this also applies to felonies). But the process can be difficult because in American justice you have no right to sue for innocence. Some states make it practically impossible.

The wonderful thing about our justice system is: you get all the justice you can afford. If you've got enough money, a lawyer may be able to do more for you.
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Old 19-06-2019, 17:58   #14
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

I applaud you for your HONESTY. That and decency are in short supply these days from up high.


I had a friend who'd served his time and went to Canada to go skiing with his friends and his son, who didn't know about his incarceration 'cuz he was too young to know at the time.


Not a good time for either of them.


Planning ahead always helps.


Good for you!
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Old 19-06-2019, 21:41   #15
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Re: Travelling from USVI to BVI with misdemeanor

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Originally Posted by Cruiser314 View Post
Hello Pete. I've called BVI immigration
First major mistake. Getting any government office in the BVI involved is a major no-no.
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