Oops, my general laziness means that chronological order of things has gone a little bit astray. If you are a new reader then you it would probably make sense to pick up the first two parts of this pulse-pounding monologue;
if you can stand it.
So to catch up I was attempting to get a visa to travel to the US for a stag do. This process had been somewhat complicated by two facts:
- I have to get a visa in the first place
- I have left this to the last minute
So I arrived at Embassy, and after being subjected to a security check more rigorous than the average airport was ushered into what can only be described as a doctor's waiting room. There were some cubicles, some windows and some people, who like me, had all broken the law at some point in their lives. I spent a good deal of time speculating as to the nature of their crimes, but thought it a little too rude to ask.
After a paperwork check to ensure all was present and correct I was eventually ushered to a booth for the interview. This was an experience not dissimilar to being ushered into a booth at a DHSS office when applying for some sort of benefit, the only difference being that the figure behind the glass presented a rather different demeanour. In the DHSS case you get a bored low level public service worker who has been abused and spat at at least four times today. In the US Embassy case you get a hulking ex-military looking type who has DEFINITELY not been spat at or abused during his shift. I assumed my most angelic face.
The conversation went as follows:
Hulking Ex-Military (HEM): Show me your paperwork.
Me: Shuffles paperwork under the counter.
HEM: Explain your offences.
Me: Well, (big pause), I distributed an extremely small quantity of not very potent drugs to a very small demographic. (So different from my sales pitch, but that was long in the past).
HEM: You appear to be convicted of quite a lot of offences at the same time?
Me: Well (big pause), I am a little confused by this. How many times can you be convicted of distributing a Class B drug on the same day (nervous laugh). All the counts were concurrent.
HEM: How long did you spend in prison?
Me: (Enjoying myself for a second) Sentenced to year and released after six months on good behaviour (beaming smile).
HEM: The second offence?
Me: Ahem, just a small thing, would have been a caution had it not been for my previous record.
HEM: How small?
Me: Really small.
Me: (Pinching motion with fingers)
HEM: OK, in light of the fact that your initial offence is serious, but also took place a long time ago...
Me: (Not interrupting but thinking this will be all over and a Visa will be attained), (beatific smile).
HEM: I am happy to refer this case to Washington, who will after due diligence, probably issue a visa.
Me: (WTF ?!?) OK, and, erm, how long will this process take?
HEM: This will take approximately two weeks.
Me: OK, thank you. ("Due diligence", "probably": WTF again???).
So I leave, pondering the process of access to America, if you have been a little naughty, and hoping the process will run smoothly. Will Mr B. Obama be too busy too sign? Arghh!
Some notes about criminal offences and their acceptability for disclosure:
In the UK if you are applying for a job you will be asked if you have any unspent convictions:
In short, a "spent" conviction is any conviction that attracted less than 2.5 years jail time. These will be spent in 10 years. Good news for me when I am applying for a job.
If you are applying for permission to visit the US and many other countries as well then a different and rather more draconian set of rules apply. Basically all offences are categorised as A, B, or C
A includes crimes such as: Attacking a human with a rocket propelled grenade launcher, messing around with small children, attempting a military coup, assassinating a president etc.
B includes crimes such as: Defrauding an individual, identity theft etc.
C includes speeding crimes, dancing on your next door neighbours daffodils.
Each offence buckets dictates how long your offences will have to last before they are spent. A: never, B: sometime soon, C: well that all depends if the daffodils are prize winning.
Mutiple choice question: guess which category I fell into...
If you guessed A you are correct, my small contribution to the chemical entertainments industry is classified at the same level as murders, rapists and people convicted of an attempted coup d'etat.
I would say funny old world, except it isn't. Never mind, dear reader I will get there in the end, or will I?