by Timar James, Pardon & Waiver Officer with Pardon Applications of Canada
New York, California, Florida and Las Vegas are a few popular destinations many Canadians enjoy traveling to for a vacation or long weekend getaway. While many Canadians may consider this travel freedom as a luxury, others do not have this privilege without certain requirements.
For Canadians with a criminal record, travelling specifically to the United States can be difficult. Everyone that enters the United States, whether crossing the border by car or by flight, must first go through customs/ border patrol known as The Department of Homeland Security of the United States. Anyone with a criminal record that attempts to enter the United States risks the possibility of these following circumstances:
- You can be questioned upon hours. Homeland Security can and will seat you in a room and have you wait as they look into your criminal background. They may interrogate you to confirm that you are co-operating and being honest with them, then determine if you meet the qualifications to be allowed access into their country.
- You can be denied entry. Homeland Security has the right to turn you away and not allow you access into their county if you do not meet their qualifications and provide the required documents in relation to your criminal background. It is at the complete discretion of Homeland Security to make this final decision and they will inform you that you need to obtain a S. Entry Waiver before trying to enter their country again.
- You can be banned from entering the United States. This is particularly a common result of anyone who overstays in the United States. Unless you are a resident of the United States or have a U.S Visa, you are only permitted 6 months entry into United States. If you remain longer than this period of time without proper documentation you can be banned for a number of years at the discretion of Homeland Security and would require a U.S Entry Waiver to gain entry again.
- You can be arrested. Depending on the nature of your criminal offence(s) and your co-operation with Homeland Security, you can be arrested if the customs/border patrol officer considers you a threat by attempting to enter their country. Honesty and co-operation is the best policy, if you are arrested and Homeland Security determines that you are not a threat, they may decide to ban you or simply deny you entry which is again at their complete discretion. In either case, you would require a U.S. Entry Waiver to gain access into the United States.
These scenarios can be stressful and very upsetting for anyone to experience which would be even more problematic if you had a family wedding to attend, trip to Disney World with the kids or a nice relaxing long weekend trip. This is especially true for all individuals with a criminal record that have been able to enter the United States previously without any problems.
Many people with a criminal record have been travelling freely and frequently to the United States without any hassle but that does not mean you are excluded or exempt. If you are one of these individuals, you still pose the risks of one of the above circumstances happening to you. There are numerous ports of entry from Canada into the United States whether it be at the borders or airports. The department of Homeland Security of the United States has multiple customs/border patrol officers that operate at these various ports of entry. It’s possible that you may have gone “under the radar” or that particular customs/border patrol officer decided to be lenient and allow you access into the USA. However, one thing for certain is that Homeland Security always has access to your criminal background and you may come across that one customs/border patrol officer who decides to do something about it. A Canadian Pardon will only seal your criminal record from public visibility here in Canada. Since the U.S does not have a pardon system of their own they do not recognize the Canadian Pardon and Homeland Security has access to your criminal record history. That is why it is important to secure your travel freedom and determine whether or not you require a U.S Entry Waiver before you plan your next vacation to the United States.
See if you qualify for U.S. Entry Waiver before planning your next trip.
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Timar James is an A+ Accredited Pardon (Record Suspension) & U.S. Waiver Officer with Pardon Applications of Canada. Established in 2011, the private firm with nationwide offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa & Toronto has responded to and processed more than 75,000 record suspension inquiries and applications.
Pardon Applications of Canada is A+ Accredited via the Better Business Bureau, uses RCMP Accredited fingerprints and has real reviews by actual applicants. Communication and transparency are at the heart of the Pardon Applications of Canada service.