4 Things to Know About Obtaining a U.S. Entry Waiver for Safe Travel
By Pegah Memarpour, freelance columnist for Pardon Applications of Canada
Applying for a U.S. Waiver can be a daunting and extensive process that many individuals delay until their imminent travel plans to the United States are approaching. However, these individuals run the risk of being denied entry into the United States and consequently ruining their travel arrangements. Unbeknownst to many, applying for a Waiver as soon as possible will secure your chances of receiving a Waiver and guaranteeing travel.
There are four important facts that individuals should know when wanting to travel to the United States with a record, and why applying for a Waiver is so important.
When a Waiver is required
Whether traveling for business, family vacation, sports events or an impromptu leisurely shopping trip a Waiver is always required for individuals who have a criminal record. Even for those who have received Record Suspension by the Canadian government, a U.S. Waiver may still be required to enter the United States since the States does not recognize Canadian Record Suspensions.
Who requires a Waiver
Although not all criminal offences result in restricted entry into the U.S. (e.g., driving under the influence, breaking and entering, disorderly conduct, and simple assault), there are many crimes that do require a Waiver.
The U.S. restricts entry for all Canadians over the age of 18 who have committed crimes against moral turpitude, including murder, manslaughter, rape, theft, bribery, prostitution, and fraud, to name a few.
Additionally, a Waiver is required for those convicted of possession of or trafficking in a controlled substance, trafficking a person, money laundering, or if an individual has been previously removed from or overstayed a previous admission period to the U.S.
Regardless of how long ago a crime was committed, the U.S. Border Officers have access to criminal records of all Canadian citizens, and a secondary screening process can access even the oldest records.
Forgoing the Waiver
Although many have been traveling problem free into the United States for many years, over the last few years, there have been a number of additional measures taken to increase security at the U.S. Border. For those who forgo the process all together and attempt to enter the U.S. without a Waiver, they risk the chance of being refused at the Border, detained by Border Officials, and even have their car confiscated. Their information will also be flagged, their records downloaded to the U.S. system and their access to the U.S. will be restricted indefinitely until a Waiver is obtained.
Applying for a Waiver ASAP
The Waiver process is not instantaneous and it can take three to ten months to collect all the appropriate documentation (e.g., filling out forms, fingerprints, official police record, citizenship, personal statement, etc.), and five to ten months for the application to be processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
A Waiver can be issued for one, two, or five years, and individuals can travel to the U.S. at any point during this time frame. If done incorrectly or if any information is missing, individuals run the risk of having their application rejected. Retaining an accredited firm can ensure the application is completed to a higher degree of accuracy.
Therefore, applying for a Waiver early is essential as the application process is time-consuming and must be done with accuracy and precision. Individuals who delay the process, or wait until travel plans are approaching, or forgo the process altogether run the risk of ruining their travel plans, impeding on work opportunities, or being denied entry into the United States.
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Pegah Memarpour is a freelance columnist for Pardon Applications of Canada, the nationwide processing firm for Canadian Pardon (Record Suspension) & US Waiver applications. The opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Pardon Applications of Canada. For a list of statistical references used in this article, or more information on Pardon Applications of Canada, call 866-383-9744 or email: [email protected]a.