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U.S. Waiver FAQ

  1. Do I Have to Get a Waiver to Travel to the U.S.?
  2. Is the U.S. Informed of My Criminal Record?
  3. How Long is My U.S Entry Waiver Valid?
  4. How Long Do I Have to Wait for a Waiver?
  5. Can I Attempt My Own Waiver Application?
  6. Can I Get a Lawyer to do My Application for Me?
  7. I’ve Been to the U.S. Without a Waiver Before. Why Do I Need One?
  8. What if I Have a Short Stopover in the U.S. on My Way to Another Country?
  9. Are There Any Criminal Offences That Do Not Require a Waiver Before Travel to the U.S.?
  10. Can I Apply for a U.S. Waiver if I’m Not a Canadian Citizen?
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  1. Do I Have to Get a Waiver to Travel to the U.S.?

    For most types of criminal records, it is illegal to try to enter the U.S.  If you try to enter by land or air, and you are not a U.S citizen or have a valid U.S. Entry Waiver, you could be barred from entry, arrested on the spot, detained at the border and/or face confiscation of the personal property in your possession, whether or not that property is yours.

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  2. Is the U.S. Informed of My Criminal Record?

    U.S. Customs agents can access the criminal database used by the RCMP when you try to enter the United States via land (border) or air (airport). If you have been charged and fingerprinted, an FPS number (Fingerprint Number) is created and linked to your name and criminal record. Your FPS number is accessible by U.S. Customs agents when you try to cross the border.  In all probability, if your attempt to get into the U.S. without an entry Waiver, the Customs agents will find out that you have a criminal record.

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  3. How Long is My U.S Entry Waiver Valid?

    The length of time that your Waiver is valid is determined entirely by The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Waivers are most often not permanent.  First time Waivers are generally granted for shorter periods of time, like one or two years.  During this period, your application establishes an initial relationship with Homeland Security.   If you continue to apply for and get Waivers, without any new problems arising, subsequent Waivers will likely be granted for longer periods of time. Eventually, if you build an extended, trouble-free history with the Department of Homeland Security, and/or the U.S. determines that your criminal record does not violate moral turpitude, you may be given a long term or permanent Waiver.   Regardless, during the term of your Waiver you have unlimited access to the United States by land or air.

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  4. How Long Do I Have to Wait for a Waiver?

    From making the first call to Pardon Applications of Canada, to receiving your Waiver, you can expect a total timeline of 8-14 months.

    Your U.S Entry Waiver application must go through two separate stages. Your Waiver is granted when both stages are successfully completed.

    The first stage is to properly process your application in accordance with the specifications set out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This is a legal process that Pardon Applications of Canada assists or completes on your behalf to ensure your application meets every specification. Once completed, your application is submitted by you, in person, to a registered Homeland Security location (usually a border crossing or airport in your area) for their independent review or decision – this is the second stage of your application process over which no person or organization in Canada has any control.

    There are 3 ways Pardon Applications of Canada expedites your U.S. Waiver application processing:  effective management of the legal process, efficient processing of the application once the process specifications are met, and obtaining quick solutions if questions or obstacles arise.  Pardon Applications of Canada is an industry leader in all three areas, which means your application is processed with the most efficiency and accuracy possible.  In addition, Priority status is available for urgent applications.

    To view timeline estimates specific to your U.S. Entry Waiver application, click here.

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  5. Can I Attempt My Own Waiver Application?

    There is no legal requirement to use an accredited processing firm for your Waiver application.  But, just like being your own legal counsel in court, attempting your own application carries several risks.  First, you need a solid understanding of the entire application process.  Each stage of the application process has strict requirements, and each one must be done in a specific order and time frame. If any one or more of the requirements are not met, or not done in the right sequence, your application may be rejected or otherwise deemed invalid, and you will have to start the process over from the beginning.  The choice is yours.  But for most Canadians, it makes sense to ensure the application is done accurately and correctly the first time.

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  6. Can I Get a Lawyer to do My Application for Me?

    Yes. But be prepared to pay fees that are three or four times more than the cost of using Pardon Applications of Canada for the same service. And lawyers do not have the same expedited application processes, they do not have a higher chance of success and they may not be specialized in Waiver applications. Indeed, many lawyers who offer to process their clients’ waiver applications use Pardon Applications of Canada instead of actually doing it themselves – and they charge their own fee for doing so.

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  7. I’ve Been to the U.S. Without a Waiver Before. Why Do I Need One?

    You have been fortunate.  On occasion, you might be able to get across the border after only answering some quick questions. However, sooner or later, a U.S Customs Agent will do a background check after scanning your passport. When they find your criminal record, you could be barred from entry, arrested on the spot, detained at the border and/or face confiscation of personal property in your possession, whether or not the property is yours. No matter how long ago you got your criminal record, or how minor the offence,  you must apply for and get a U.S. Entry Waiver if you wish to travel to the U.S. without risk.

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  8. What if I Have a Short Stopover in the U.S. on My Way to Another Country?

    Regardless of how long you stay in the U.S., even just for a stopover, you will be required to go through U.S. Customs just the same as if the U.S. was your final destination. If your criminal record is discovered, you could be barred from entry, arrested on the spot, detained at the border and/or face confiscation of personal property in your possession, whether or not the property is yours.  This could mean you will not make your travel connections and your entire trip could be jeopardized.

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  9. Are There Any Criminal Offences That Do Not Require a Waiver Before Travel to the U.S.?

    One common assault charge or one DUI might not cause you any problems when entering the U.S., if they are the only charge on your record.  But, whether you are allowed entry is completely at the discretion of U.S. Customs and they have authority to deny entry on the basis of any charge on your record.  If you want the peace of mind of knowing you will not be denied entry due to your criminal record, you must get a U.S Entry Waiver.

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  10. Can I Apply for a U.S. Waiver if I’m Not a Canadian Citizen?

    Yes.  In addition to your U.S. Waiver application, however, an additional Visa application may be required.  Pardon Applications of Canada will ensure the successful completion of both applications, if applicable.

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