Will Americans with a criminal record be able to visit Europe visa-free in 2024?
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
Americans are about to become a little less privileged.
Starting in 2024, American citizens are expected to be required to fill out an electronic travel authorization (ETIAS) to visit a number of European countries (assuming the absence of another bureaucratic delay of ETIAS’s implementation).
This will be a rude awakening for Americans who are used to not having to fill out any paperwork, electronic or not, to visit Europe.
Welcome to how the rest of the world travels.
What Questions Will ETIAS Ask American Travelers?
According to the European Union website, the following questions will be asked:
"What information will I be asked to provide in my application?
You will be asked to provide the following information:
- Personal information including your name(s), date and place of birth, sex, nationalities, home address, email address and phone number(s);
- Your parents’ first name(s);
- Travel document details;
- Your level of education and current occupation;
- The country of your first intended stay and the address of your destination;
- Details about any past criminal convictions, past travels to war or conflict zones, and whether you have recently been the subject of a return decision."
The Bottom Line for American Travelers
First, millions of Americans have some sort of criminal conviction of some kind that they'll have to disclose, and learn whether it disqualifies them from ETIAS.
They’ll also want to find out whether their conviction is subject to post-conviction relief, like expungement (in California), expunction, vacatur, or record sealing. This is also one of three strategies for Americans with a criminal record pursuing second citizenship. Whether these options are available depends on a) the conviction, b) the state of the conviction, and c) the facts of the case.
I predict we'll see a bump in Americans pursuing expungements more avidly, even for old convictions.
DUI from 20 years ago? They'll want to expunge it.
Juvenile case from when they were 15 years old? They'll want to seal it.
If post-conviction relief is available, they may also want to try to get their FBI background check updated. This article explains how that process works.
Second, some Americans who have traveled to conflict zones, whether for work or tourism, will have to disclose the fact, and learn whether it disqualifies them from ETIAS.
Also, adventurous Americans may have to decide whether an exciting trip to countries such as Yemen, South Sudan, Iraq, Syria, or Ukraine will be worth risking an ETIAS denial.
Third, For the first time, Americans will be subject to judgment of their educational level and occupation, to be able to visit Europe visa-free. I doubt educational and occupational level will be heavily used to deny ETIAS applicants, other than if they reveal identity inconsistencies.
So how can Americans avoid all this?
By pursuing European citizenship by descent, IF you qualify. Citizens of European Union countries will not be subject to ETIAS, and have freedom of movement within the European Union, including satellite residency rights.
Request a Consultation with Malakouti Law
Do you want to be screened for European citizenship by descent? Request a consultation with Malakouti Law here.
Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.