What is Moral Turpitude?
For anyone travelling to the USA on the Visa Waiver Program you will normally be required to fill out an ESTA online registration.
One of the questions on the ESTA is..
Some people suggest that if you have been arrested for any reason then you must answer 'Yes'. However if you read the question, it is asking if the arrest or conviction involved Moral Turpitude
. If the arrest or conviction does not involve Moral Turpitude then the statement implies you can answer 'No'.
So an important question is, what is Moral Turpitude?
The term ‘moral turpitude’ first appeared in US immigration law in 1891, which directed the exclusion from the United States of ‘persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.’ It has however never been defined by statute as far as we know.
Crimes involving moral turpitude are grouped into three general categories.
- Crimes committed against property (for example, arson, blackmail, burglary, larceny, robbery, fraud, false pretences, theft, receiving stolen property)
- Crimes committed against governmental authority (for example, bribery, tax evasion, perjury, fraud against government functions)
- Crimes committed against persons, family relationships, and sexual morality (for example, serious assaults, gross indecency, lewdness, kidnapping, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape).
Below are quotes from U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 Visas
9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-1 Crimes Committed Against Property
9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-2 Crimes Committed Against Governmental Authority
9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.3-3 Crimes Committed Against Person, Family Relationship, and Sexual Morality
Regardless of where a crime is committed the decision of whether the crime does or does not involve Moral Turpitude and whether a foreign visitor to the USA is eligible or ineligible for a visa or visa waiver is a matter for US law. Readers who believe this may be an issue for them should consult a competent US immigration legal representative before applying for a visa or for admission to the United States.
Note: The content of this page is for general information only and should not under any circumstances be regarded as the law. We offer no guarantees that the information here is accurate.
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