This following article aims to explain in detail what “Crimes of moral turpitude” are and how they affect the ESTA visa waiver program application of travelers with a criminal history.
Essentially, crimes of moral turpitude can make ESTA applicants inadmissible or removed from the United States, since “good moral character” is one of the main requirements for a successful ESTА application.
Note that no one has ever been charged with “crime of moral turpitude” as this is the general description of a variety of crimes and is applied to them when appropriate. Both misdemeanor and more serious crimes can be considered as CMT, depending on the criminal justice system, dealing with them.
The term first appeared in the US immigration law in 1891. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) explains such crimes as those, which are: contrary to the general rules of morality, despicable and aggressive. Following are some of the most common crime examples, which the US Government has determined to be classified as CMT:
This is a list of only a number of officially recognised crimes of moral turpitude. Here is how to better understand them:
“Fraud” is a general term, which may include wronging the government by hiding taxes, bribing an official, postal fraud or knowingly hiding a criminal from the law.
One of the most common groups of crimes are those committed against other people. Manslaughter, murder or assault will make your ESTA application ineligible.
Bigamy, which stands for marrying while your current spouse is still living, is another type of crime that might be considered of moral turpitude, together with paternity fraud, child abandonment, and incest. It is not a fact that your ESTA application will be denied, based on such violations of the American law.
However, raping and kidnapping rank much higher in the criminal offense chart, and consequently, both will render your visa waiver application ineligible.
Another big group of crimes goes under the name of “Evil intent”. This group includes embezzlement, robbery, arson, extortion or blackmail. Transporting or aiding with the transportation of stolen goods will also be considered as a crime of moral turpitude.
Crimes of various nature may be included in the list in one country, while in a different country the classification may be different. Nevertheless, all travelers with a criminal record must bear in mind that the essential regulations are those of the United States. For this reason, we strongly advise consulting an attorney at law, before applying for ESTA admission to the USA.