US Entry Waiver

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US Waiver

Experienced US immigration lawyer in Canada providing US Waiver services to all Canadians. We are pleased to offer free comprehensive consultations!

Can You Travel to the USA with a Criminal Record from Canada?

The American border has full access to the RCMP criminal database. Consequently, a traveler with a criminal record in Canada may be instantly detected and denied entry. Whether you attempt to fly into the United States or drive across the border, if you are considered criminally inadmissible because of a past conviction you will be at substantial risk of being refused admittance.

A citizen or permanent resident of Canada can obtain special permission to cross the US border with a criminal record by applying for a US Entry Waiver. This involves convincing the American Government you are safe and will not commit any crimes in their country. If approved for a Travel Waiver, a Canadian's criminal history will no longer prevent them from visiting America for as long as the permit is valid.

Have a conviction and want access to USA? Our Ontario-based US immigration lawyer offers FREE consultations to Canadians.

So You Can Go to the US with a Criminal Record?

If a Canadian citizen or PR is approved for a US Waiver, they can travel to the United States with a criminal record as often as they wish so long as the permit has not expired. If a Canadian attempts to enter the US with a record and has not obtained a Waiver, he or she may be denied entry on grounds of criminality. Since applying for a US Entry Waiver involves a significant amount of paperwork, some Canadians decide to simply avoid USA rather than fix their inadmissibility.

How Does the US Border Know I Have a Criminal Record?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has a national database containing all criminal records for the entire country. This is maintained by a section of the RCMP called the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS). The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is given full access to this database. Consequently, when a traveler arrives at the US border and hands over their passport, CBP officers can immediately detect the person has a criminal charge or conviction in Canada. Even an arrest record or pending charge can be problematic at the American border unless the visitor can prove a "favourable" outcome or has obtained an Entry Waiver.

Wondering if your criminal record may be an issue at the border? Phone us today for a no-cost evaluation.

Can I Travel to USA with a Canadian Pardon

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not recognize a Canadian Record Suspension, formerly called a Canadian Pardon. Consequently, Canadians with a criminal record can still be denied entry by US border patrol even if they have successfully received a Record Suspension. While many Pardon companies in Canada claim that a Record Suspension can enable a person with a criminal record to become fully admissible to USA, this is incorrect.

If you have a summary or indictable conviction in Canada, you may require an Inadmissibility Waiver even if you have already been granted a Record Suspension. While a Canadian Pardon does not eliminate the need for a United States Travel Waiver, it could strengthen a person's application. This is because the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) determining an individual was worthy of a Record Suspension could help convince the American Government the person should be considered a low risk to reoffend.

Can I Go to America with Pending Charges in Canada

There is no presumption of innocence at the USA border. If a Canadian has pending charges, American border agents can treat them similar to a conviction unless a traveler has evidence of a "favourable" outcome such as proof all charges were dropped or dismissed. Even if you are confident you will beat the case, if you have been charged with a crime in Canada the offence could be used against you when traveling internationally. For this reason, most people do not leave the country when they have a pending court date.

Once a person is arrested in Canada, United States border agents may expect them to obtain an Entry Waiver or provide evidence criminal charges will not be filed. In a nutshell, if American border authorities think a traveler might end up convicted of a crime due to an arrest record, they can turn the person away. A bench warrant can also be an issue at the border, as it can be an indication the visitor will end up convicted of a summary or indictable crime. Even if the warrant is provincial, if US border agents are concerned by it they can decide to deny entry. For example: a bench warrant from Quebec could be a problem when driving from Ontario to New York despite not be enforceable in either jurisdiction.

Need to enter America but have a pending charge? Contact us now!

Determining Admissibility

Not all summary convictions render a Canadian inadmissible to the United States on grounds of criminality, but many of them do. Crimes that involve moral turpitude (CIMT), such as assault / battery (including domestic violence) or theft, almost always render the offender inadmissible. Likewise, America is extremely tough on any visitor with past drug crimes so Canadians with a criminal record for drugs will typically require a Waiver in order to travel into USA. For example: a conviction for possession of a controlled substance in Alberta can be problematic at the border even if the incident happened a long time ago and did not involve any intent to sell.

Despite legalization, cannabis offences can still cause Canadians trouble at the US border. Even though possession of marijuana for personal use is no longer a crime in Canada, and many US states have also legalized recreational cannabis, it is still considered a crime according to United States federal law. Since the American border is under federal jurisdiction, a conviction for possession of marijuana in Canada can require a Waiver of Inadmissibility even after the person has been pardoned. Both summary offences and indictable offences can require an American Entry Waiver.

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), which is the most common crime in Canada, does not usually render a person criminally inadmissible to America. Consequently, a Canadian with a criminal record for DUI is often allowed to continue traveling to the US. Before submitting a US Entry Waiver application, it is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer about your admissibility. It takes a lot of time and money to apply for US Waiver access, so its always smart to double check it is required before pursuing such an extensive legal procedure.

How Fast Can a Canadian Enter USA with a Criminal Record?

If a Canadian requires a USA Entry Waiver in order to visit America with a criminal past, it will likely take them several months to obtain one. If a person needs to get into the United States quickly, they can work with a qualified lawyer to request a fast eSAFE Waiver which can substantially reduce the government processing time. In an emergency situation, a Canadian with a criminal record may qualify for "humanitarian parole" depending on the nature of their trip.

Can I Go to America with a Criminal Record From Long Ago?

A Canadian with a criminal record can have difficulty traveling to the USA even if they have had avoided any police interaction for a long time. According to American immigration law, even a criminal record from 20+ years ago can prevent a Canadian from crossing the US border. Our law firm is regularly contacted by Canadians who have been denied admittance by America for criminal convictions from way back in the 1980s and 1990s. In other words, if an old criminal record is discoverable by border security it could potentially be used against a Canadian trying to enter the US.

Can You Get a US Entry Waiver After Being Denied Entry?

Some Canadians do not learn that a criminal record is an issue at the USA border until they end up denied entry. For example: a person might book a flight from Toronto to Miami only to get refused admittance at the US CBP Preclearance in Pearson Airport. Once a Canadian has received a border denial due to criminal inadmissibility, he or she must either avoid the United States or apply for a Waiver.

Even after being denied entrance, it is possible for a Canadian to get approved for a US Entry Waiver but professional assistance from a lawyer is advisable. The procedure is not easy and requires a lot of supporting documentation including court records and a fingerprint-based background check from the RCMP. With a previous border denial, an applicant should dot the i's and cross the t's in order to maximize their odds of success. When submitting a US Waiver application, any past border refusal should be explained so that governmental authorities do not think the person was purposely trying to break the rules.

Wondering how to get into USA with a criminal record from Canada? Our legal team would be happy to answer all your questions.

How Can We Help?

If you have any criminal history and need to enter the United States, call us now or fill out this form! 24 Hour Response Time!