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Visa for UK Entry with Criminal Record

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My husband has a criminal record from 1996 for which he spent just a little more than 3 years incarcerated. He has no felony or misdemeanor convictions after this.

We are going to Paris. Next week. My husband commented that he now wants to take the Eurostar from Paris to London. As we only have a week, there is no way to get a visa prior to arrival. Is it possible to enter the UK with an old criminal record if the person has not gotten a Visa beforehand?

Will they ask? And if they do and he tells them he has an old conviction, is there a chance he will still be able to enter the UK?

Do they have access to US criminal records at the UK border?

We will have return tickets to France on the Eurostar as well as return tickets to the US. We will have a hotel in London and plenty of money to finance the 2 days we want to spend there.

Please, only constructive answers...we are not trying to break some sort of rule. I have not been able to find anything definite on whether or not he will be able to get into the UK. All of the websites say you do not need a Visa if you are from the US, but you may want to consider getting one if you have a criminal conviction...but nowhere does it say that if you have a conviction and no Visa, you are not getting in...we would like to try to avoid spending the money if he is not able to enter the country.

Any advice would be great...

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