United States Entry Waivers
Do I need a US Entry Waiver?
If you have a criminal record and want to travel to the United States then you need an entry waiver document. It used to be that you could get in after just answering a few questions. But it has become more difficult as they are doing background checks now at the border stations.
If you want to travel to U.S and haven’t received a pardon you’ll need to apply for the entry waiver. During the application process its necessary to give information about your criminal record to the U.S government.
Regardless of whether your record is for a serious offense or not or you’ve had the record for a long time you can still be denied entry. If you enter the United States and don’t declare your record you can be permanently banned from entering the US or arrested. Pardons Canada will help you with this process so that your application it’s the best it can be. The approval depends on a government agent so the application needs to be professional. During the application process, you’ll have to give your fingerprints to the FBI and the RCMP for verification. You’ll also need to provide supporting documents.
Its unlawful to enter the U.S. with a criminal record, unless you have been given a U.S. Entry Waiver document.
You may have gotten lucky in the past and gotten through the border station after answering a few questions. Currently you’ll need to show your passport as identification and they will search the database to see if you have a criminal record. When they find your record, you will then have a permanent Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) file. Then you’ll be denied entry.
The first time you are refused
When you are refused the first time the US Government can detain you. This is not something you want to have happen. When this happens, a report is downloaded by the FBI from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC).
When refused entry more than once
When you attempt to pass through customs the second time without a waiver document you are seen as being aware that you are breaking the law and doing it anyways. If you arrived by bus you risk having the whole bus refused entry. If you arrived by car they can permanently confiscate your vehicle. If you arrive by air, they will void your ticket and you will not get the money you paid for the ticket back. Additionally, being detained and hand-cuffed is not a pleasant experience. Since they already have your information from when you were first caught it’s much easier for them to catch you the second time.
If you are caught while you are In the US unlawfully
If when you’re in the U.S. without the right papers you are caught, you will most probably be arrested and then deported.
Seizure of Property
If your vehicle and property is seized you will most probably not be able to get it back.
What Offences prevent your admission to the United States?
Anyone with a fingerprint (FPS) number will be barred from entry even if the charges were withdrawn. In this case you need to have your record destroyed or sealed before entering the U.S. Its therefore advisable for you to apply for a U.S. Entry Waiver document a long time before you try to enter the U.S. Once you have received a pardon your fingerprint (FPS) number will no longer be on the system that is used by U.S. authorities.
If you must travel to the United States before you are pardoned you can still apply for an entry waiver document but approval is not guaranteed. Pardons Canada will assist you and figure out what’s best for your case.
U.S. Entry Waivers time frame
Applications usually take 6 to 12 months after you have collected and submitted all the correct documents. It is important to begin your application as soon as possible.
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Immigration and working in the United States
When you want to immigrate and/or work in the United States you’ll have to get a police background clearance done, and if your record is still there you will most probably be refused entry.
Pardons Canada fees, plans, services
Pardons Canada will take care of all the specific details regarding your plans to travel to the United States.
You’re not going to get a better price for a service like this.
Plans and Fees
Standard plan: $700 includes
- • Monthly payments are possible
- • Phone and email support
- • fees for disbursement
- • Court fees (up to 2 convictions)
Premium plan: $820 includes
- • Court fees (for all convictions)
- • Personal Support letters
- • Phone and email support
- • Follow up
- • Disbursement fees
- • Special attention for unique situation
- • Monthly payments are possible
- • A file review by a lawyer if needed
Frequently Asked Questions
- I’m heard that I cannot legally travel to the United states due to my criminal record. Is this true?
Yes, it is true. If you have not received a U.S. Entry waiver document and you are not a citizen of the United States, it is illegal to enter the United States with a criminal record.
- Do all types of convictions prevent me from going to the United States?
Officially not all convictions should prevent you from going to the U.S. Offences such as driving while impaired should not be an issue. But United States officials in reality will prevent you from entering with any criminal record, regardless of severity.
- Is it possible for me to fly to a country via the United States with a criminal record? Do I still need a waiver for that?
The problem is that you have to pass through United States immigration anyways if your connection flight is in the United States. Because of this you need a U.S. Entry waiver document or your other flight ticket will be voided.
- Do the authorities in the United States know about my record?
When you attempt to enter the United States, officials can and will search the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) records database. When they find your record, it will be downloaded to their CBP and FBI database. Once an entry is made for your there it can never be removed.
- If I must go to the United States even though my pardon has yet to be granted what can happen?
It is most likely that your criminal record will be visible to the authorities and you will not be allowed to enter the United States.
- I have travelled to the United States numerous times. How come they have yet to catch me?
Up until now you have been extremely lucky. Since the 911 terrorist attacked on the United States in 2001, there has been a major increase in security measures and the number of agents at each border crossing has dramatically increased. Also, since 2009 Canadians have to use a passport to enter the U.S. as opposed to be allowed to enter with a driver’s license only. For these reasons, it is much more likely that you will be caught the next time you go.
- I was refused entry to the United States once, but now I have to go and try again. What could go wrong?
Being caught the second-time results in much more harsh treatment. Your vehicle and possessions may be seized permanently and you will be hand-cuffed and detained. This isn’t a nice experience. Every time you are caught your change of being granted a U.S. Entry waiver diminishes.
- Has the United States border really become more difficult to cross?
Yes. After 911 the regulations for border crossing have become much more strict. The FBI (Federal Bureau of Infestations) is now connected to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CPIC) database. Agents can easily access your criminal record at the border crossing station with a simple name search on their computer terminal. If you don’t have a waiver document you are taking a major risk trying to cross the border.
- What is a waiver document and why would a person need it?
The U.S. Entry waiver document enables an individual to enter the United States even though they have been convicted of a crime in the past.
- Who makes the decision on whether I am granted a waiver or not?
The Admissibility Review Office (ARO) reviews your application. They have the authority to grant or reject your application for a waiver.
- What is required for an application for the waiver?
There are specific requirements for the waiver application that are often changing. Pardons Canada has counsellors that are on your side and that prepare your application for you.
- How long should I expect to wait to be granted the U.S Entry Waiver?
The preparation stage for the application during which time all the necessary documents are gathered can take six to twelve months. Once the application is submitted to the ARO it can take another six to twelve months for the waiver to be approved. For this reason, it is advisable to start the application process well in advance of your travel to the United States.
- For what period of time does a United States Entry Waiver last?
The Waivers are granted for a period of six 6 months up to a period of five years. After that amount of time, you will need to renew them. There are rare cases where a waiver that is granted is permanent.
- Once I’m granted a waiver can I go to the United States whenever I want?
Yes. once you have been given a waiver you can travel to the United States whenever you want. You will still need to travel with a passport. The waiver document needs to be carried alongside the passport.
- Is it possible that even though I have a waiver I won’t be allowed into the United States?
It is possible to still be refused if there are other security concerns at the border station.
- Do I still need to get a U.S. Entry Waiver document even though I’ve never been refused entry before?
Yes. It is unlawful to enter the United States without a waiver if you have a criminal record. If you have not received a pardon and you attempt to enter the United States you can be caught. If you are caught they will download your criminal record from CPIC and that can never be erased from the FBI’s databases. Then you’ll need a waiver to enter the United States for the rest of your life. If you are in the process of getting a pardon it is better to wait for the pardon before travelling to the United States. Once you have a pardon/record suspension the U.S. Agencies will never know about your record.
- Do I still need a waiver if there is a family emergency?
There are some situations which allow for a Port Parole. Some people can get one while their Waiver document is being processed, but it is only granted in very urgent humanitarian situations. Some of those situations might be: to attend a funeral of a close member of the family and in medical emergencies.
- Are there any limitations to the waiver document?
The only limitation is that they are granted for a certain period of time only.
- When is it possible for me to apply for a waiver document?
It is possible for you to apply for a U.S. Entry Waiver at any time.
- What are the specific documents that have to be submitted with my U.S Entry Waiver application?
That can depend on a number of factors: 1) With what were you charged? 2) When was the charge? 3) For what reason to you need to enter the U.S.? A Pardons Canada counsellor will look at your situation and determine what documents need to be attached to your application.
- Is it possible that my application will be denied?
There are many reasons that can cause an application to be denied. When the documentation is not prepared correctly or if you have not shown that you are a law-abiding citizen now, the application can be rejected. It can also be denied if you provide the authorities supporting documents that are not organized properly and are confusing.
- Is a U.S Entry Waiver necessary if I have already received a Canadian pardon?
If in the past you have been refused entry at the U.S. border because of your record that indicates that the U.S. authorities have a permanent copy of your criminal record. In this situation, even though you have a pardon it will not be recognized and you will still need an entry waiver document.
- Is it possible for me to work or immigrate to the United States with a criminal record?
When you apply to work in or immigrate to the United States you have to have a police background clearance check. This check will reveal your record and will negatively impact your application. It is most probable that your application will be refused. The best option is to apply for a pardon before any application to work or immigrate.
- Is it possible for Pardons Canada to help with FAST Cards, Nexus Cards, and Work visas?
Pardons Canada keeps up to date on what is required to be approved for these cards and documents.
- Is it possible for me to apply for a U.S. Entry Waiver by myself?
Yes, it is possible. But it’s not recommended because it’s difficult to do on your own. It is a long process and the rules change often. Here is a video from Pardons Canada about U.S. Waivers: