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lexxi
09-24-2009, 01:27 AM
Here's the situation:

Once upon a time a young man (late teens) in the UK got involved with a group of pseudo-friends in committing a series of crimes.

He eventually testified against his co-conspirators and did little or no prison time himself. But he was at risk for retaliation, so he wanted to disappear.

He didn't have much honest job history at that point, but he did have some technical skills and physical fearlessness.

Eleven years later he's living in the US and working in construction/as an electrician.

How did he get there?

I've tried researching the relevant bureaucracies online, but they don't address enough specifics that would apply to this situation.

Would the British authorities have been any help in terms of witness protection, even just giving him a passport with a new name and telling him he was on his own?

Could he have gotten a US work visa before emigrating and later a green card? Or just show up illegally and fake the paperwork somehow?

Would it be more or less plausible for him to have spent a few years someplace like Ireland or Australia in between? Or working on a ship?

Could this whole reinvention have been done completely legally, and if so, what authorities would know who he used to be? If not, at what point would it be most likely for forged documents to be necessary, which he could use to qualify for legitimate ones on false pretenses?

aquatico
09-24-2009, 03:07 AM
I think it would depend a lot on the kind of crime he was involved in before he testified against his co-conspirators, or "turned Queen's Evidence" as they say in the UK, and how much risk there was of retaliation before the British authorities would have helped him under a witness protection programme, unless he was a "supergrass", which sounds unlikely if he was only a teenager. If he did do any prison time himself he would probably also have pleaded guilty during the trial as I doubt he would have been given immunity from prosecution except in the most exceptional circumstances. The following link describes some recent cases of how the witness protection scheme works in the UK.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/supergrasses-life-on-the-run-777514.html

It sounds more likely that your character would have had to a forge a new identity somehow or steal someone else's before he went to the States. There was a guy recently who faked his own death and went to Panama on a false passport before he was caught.

firedrake
09-24-2009, 03:12 AM
Here's the situation:

Once upon a time a young man (late teens) in the UK got involved with a group of pseudo-friends in committing a series of crimes.

He eventually testified against his co-conspirators and did little or no prison time himself. But he was at risk for retaliation, so he wanted to disappear.

He didn't have much honest job history at that point, but he did have some technical skills and physical fearlessness.

Eleven years later he's living in the US and working in construction/as an electrician.

How did he get there?

I've tried researching the relevant bureaucracies online, but they don't address enough specifics that would apply to this situation.

Would the British authorities have been any help in terms of witness protection, even just giving him a passport with a new name and telling him he was on his own?

Could he have gotten a US work visa before emigrating and later a green card? Or just show up illegally and fake the paperwork somehow?

Would it be more or less plausible for him to have spent a few years someplace like Ireland or Australia in between? Or working on a ship?

Could this whole reinvention have been done completely legally, and if so, what authorities would know who he used to be? If not, at what point would it be most likely for forged documents to be necessary, which he could use to qualify for legitimate ones on false pretenses?

Speaking from bitter personal experience, I seriously doubt that he would get a green card. USCIS require a Police Report/Criminal Records check.
Construction/electricians are a dime a dozen, not an occupation needing foreign workers so he would not get an employer-sponsored visa.
He may get a GC if one of his parents was a US Citizen.

The US is one of the hardest countries in the world to get permanent residency visas. When you apply for a visa, USCIS demand a watertight paper trail, from birth to marriage to divorce, etc.

Mumut
09-24-2009, 03:51 AM
Could the police have dropped the charges or just not brought any charges against him in return for his cooperation? If so, he could have started building a new persona for himself in UK. First he'd get himself rental accommodation in a false name, saying he'd lost all id in a fire and was waiting for papers to be re-issued. He could even use an actual fire to back up his story. Can he get casual work on a farm - hoeing fields of manglewurzles or bailing hay - using the new rental agreement as proof of id. He now has two ids. How many are needed for a drivers licence? Can he open a bank account with the two he has got himself easily. When he is renting, could he have the electricity in his assumed name? That would be another POI.

Anyway, build up POI from easy to hard until you have enough documentary evidence for him to legally ship overseas. I'm not sure of birth certificate. Could he take on the id of a missing person and establish himself with that ID or take over the id of a school friend he knows has been a street kid and will never have a tax file number (or whatever it's called where he lives) - he could even do it with the help of another crim he did a favour to previously.

So find out what documents would get him where he wants to be and work out ways of him securing each one of them. That could bring tension into the story as well.

Keyan
09-24-2009, 04:38 AM
It depends on how watertight you want the new id to be.

A simple way would be to (1) change his name legally in the UK, preferably after moving away from the city where it all happened (2) get a UK passport with his new legal name on it (3) visit the US and fall in love with an American woman and marry her (4) stay on and apply for a green card (5) work at whatever he wants. If the wife is superfluous to story requirements, they divorce, with or without kids depending on what you want. He has to be very careful not to commit any crimes in the US. After 30 months (IIRC) he can apply for citizenship. At that time, he can change his name *again* if he so wishes, and get a US passport with the new new name.

This would leave a paper trail that could be traced back if someone takes the trouble, but it wouldn't be immediately obvious. If you met him, you'd know him as Chuck NewNewName, and you wouldn't know that he was once Basil NewName, and before that Al Smith.

Priene
09-24-2009, 04:48 AM
I've never heard of witness protection getting someone a foreign passport. Why would the foreign government agree to give it?

They could construct a new, British identity, though, and we have the right to change our names by Deed Poll whenever we want. We also have the right to work and settle in any EU country.

lexxi
09-24-2009, 07:18 AM
Thanks for all your thoughts.

I was thinking a new British passport with a different name.

Citizenship isn't important, just that he is able to work in the US.

It's possible his employers are willing to hire an illegal worker, but that will affect their characterization so I need figure out if I need that to be the case. If they're honest, it's also better if they don't know he's British, which would mean he'd need documents from some other random country.

GordonK
09-24-2009, 08:05 AM
You should check if a convicted criminal can get a British passport after serving time. Without a passport, he simply can't get into the US legally. And if he can't get a new passport, is it possible that he already has one before serving time that he can still use? IIRC Brits don't need a visa to enter the US for the purpose of visit.

Depending on his criminal record, chances are he can't get a working visa or immigration status in the US. Immigration in the US is generally geared for family reunion. Unless he's very wealthy, or has very specialized skill (eg plays basketball better than Vince Carter,) his best bet is to marry a US citizen (sub-plot for romance/sex?) to attain permanent residency.

However, during the process of application for immigration, he will be asked to provide proof that he's a good man, ie certificates from the authorities of no criminal record from all places he had lived in the past. Chances are he can't provide that information.

Can you make him commit his crime and serve time in another country, say France (or better yet a country outside the EU)? For immigration purpose, he should also provide proof that he was clean in that country, but from my experience, some consulate officials aren't that serious on this if your guy is clean in his own country, looks innocent, and his other documents are in good order.

JulieHowe
09-24-2009, 08:24 AM
It was fairly easy at one time to obtain fake US work documents, including a fake driver's license, social security number, and/or a Matricular Consular card from the embassy of your choice.


Someone I met at a youth hostel, a British woman, showed me her fake social security card when she found out I was an American, just to get my opinion on the quality. It looked real to me. She told me that it was nearly impossible for a foreigner to pull of the same trick in Europe, because the documents were much harder to forge.

CEtchison
09-24-2009, 08:24 AM
It's possible his employers are willing to hire an illegal worker, but that will affect their characterization so I need figure out if I need that to be the case. If they're honest, it's also better if they don't know he's British, which would mean he'd need documents from some other random country.

Illegal workers in the construction field were quite commonplace ten years ago. But they worked as laborers for the most part (i.e. framing, concrete, landscaping, brick work, etc.). Electricians are required to take an examination to be licensed by the state. I would imagine they would have to provide the proper documentation in order to sit for an exam.

waylander
09-24-2009, 05:59 PM
You should check if a convicted criminal can get a British passport after serving time. Without a passport, he simply can't get into the US legally.

AFAIK there is no impediment to a time-served convict getting a UK passport

Mike Martyn
09-25-2009, 01:08 AM
The best way used to be to go to an out of the way graveyard. Find a name (preferably a fairly common one ie William James Johnson), of someone born around the same time as you who died in infancy then apply for a birth certificate in that name. The record of the birth would be at that jurisiction's department of Vital Statitics.

The scene in the graveyard might be an interesting one to write.

"Alas poor Willy.."

However, these days it isn't so simple. You'll probably need some id to send to Vital stats in the first place such as a utility bill or a copy of your visa card. There is a certain amount of chicken and egg involved.

Smiling Ted
09-25-2009, 01:49 AM
Why not ask the nearest American consulate?

ideagirl
09-29-2009, 05:47 AM
AFAIK there is no impediment to a time-served convict getting a UK passport

But there are obstacles to their getting US visas. However, British people, like most Europeans, can come here as tourists on the visa waiver program, without having to get a visa in advance. Visa waivers let them be here for 90 days, during which time they're not allowed to work (not even volunteer work); after 90 days they have to leave, and they can't convert their visa waiver to any other type of visa (i.e. they can't, say, register at a college while they're here and then request a student visa)--so if they want a different type of visa they have to go home and apply for it there.

In other words, as a convict, he could get into the US on a tourist visa, but he could not legalize himself. He would become an illegal alien on his 91st day.

bylinebree
10-04-2009, 01:14 PM
But he was at risk for retaliation, so he wanted to disappear.

And...

Would the British authorities have been any help in terms of witness protection, even just giving him a passport with a new name and telling him he was on his own?


You may have gotten your answers, but I've been doing alot of research on WitSec for my own project. It's gone international; not long ago, they had an Internat'l Symposium. A number of countries now cooperate in transferring protected witnesses, getting them set up, etc.

WitSec takes care of the new ID -- the documents needed for work, birth cert, passport, and so forth.
Their is a training/induction center that new witnesses are required to attend so they know how to follow the rules, make a new life, and stay alive.

Witnesses get a (small) stipend to help in their new lives, & the program also may provide training and sometimes even pays for educational needs for a new career. After that, the success of the 'new life' is largely up to the person...

As to specifics, there's been some great info by others on this thread. Check on Amazon for related books as well, such as WITSEC by Pete Earley/Gerald Shur.