Starting in 2021, the European Commission will require all American citizens to get clearance from the European Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS) before being permitted to board a flight to countries in the Schengen Area.
As with America’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) – which all EU citizens must obtain prior to traveling to the US – ETIAS will ask questions about one’s prior European Union (EU) immigration history as well as prior arrests and convictions.
If a person has had any prior arrest or conviction, ETIAS will reject the application and the person will be required to address the reason for denial with a visa office of the embassy or consulate of the country which rejected the application. It is a well-known fact that getting visa officers to overlook a prior criminal record is very difficult and rarely successful.
Bottom line: If you have a prior arrest and/or conviction, you may be unable to travel.
What to do?
EU citizens may travel visa-free in the Schengen Area and are not required to register with ETIAS. There are several EU countries that allow one to acquire citizenship by investment as well as ancestry. Given that these countries have an interest in granting individuals citizenship, you may be able to secure a passport when you have a history of lesser criminal offenses (e.g.: DWI, misdemeanors, etc.). Contact us to discuss options for acquiring EU citizenship.*
*Please note: not all countries recognize dual citizenship. If you are interested in exploring residency options, please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.