- What is a U.S. Entry Waiver?
- Must I Get a Waiver to Travel to the U.S.?
- How Long is My U.S Entry Waiver Good For?
- Does the U.S. Know About My Criminal Record?
- Are There Any Criminal Offences That Do Not Require a Waiver Before Travel to the U.S.?
- Can I Apply for a U.S. Waiver if I’m Not a Canadian Citizen?
- If I’ve Never Entered the U.S. before, Should I Get a Pardon First?
- Can I Do My Own Waiver Application?
- Should I Get a Lawyer to do My Waiver Application?
- How Long Will it Take to Get a Waiver?
- I’ve Crossed the Border Before. Why do I Need a Waiver?
- What if I Have a Short Stopover in the U.S. on My Way to Another Country?
What is a U.S. Entry Waiver?
A U.S Entry Waiver (also known as a “Waiver” or ”I-192”) is a legal document issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which awards advance permission to the applicant to enter the United States for a period of time. Most Canadians with a criminal record require a Waiver before entering the U.S.
Once a traveler has a valid U.S. Waiver, they are legally allowed to enter the United States an unlimited number of times via air or land throughout the term of the Waiver, regardless of their criminal record.
Must I Get a Waiver to Travel to the U.S.?
It is illegal for a Canadian or resident to attempt entrance into the U.S. with most criminal records. If you risk trying to enter by land or air, and you are not a U.S citizen or have a valid U.S. Entry Waiver, you may be barred from entry, arrested, detained and/or face confiscation of personal property in your possession.
How Long is My U.S Entry Waiver Good For?
The length of time that your Waiver is valid is determined entirely by The U.S. Department of Homeland Security. First time applicants are generally granted a Waiver for 1 or 2 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 longer term or permanent Waiver. Regardless, during the term of your Waiver you have unlimited access to the United States by land or air.
Does the U.S. Know About My Criminal Record?
When you attempt to enter the United States via land (border) or air (airport), U.S. Customs & Border Officers access the same criminal database used by the RCMP in Canada. If you have ever been charged or fingerprinted in Canada, you were registered with a unique FPS#. Your name, fingerprints, charges and criminal record in Canada are all attached to your FPS# and completely accessible by the United States. Even obtaining a Pardon (record suspension) in Canada does not remove the FPS data accessible by U.S. agents — a common misconception.
Are There Any Criminal Offences That Do Not Require a Waiver Before Travel to the U.S.?
One (and only one) DUI might not cause you any problems when attempting to enter the U.S. 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.
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.
If I’ve Never Entered the U.S. before, Should I Get a Pardon First?
If you’ve never attempted to enter the U.S. previously, or you’ve never attempted to enter before you were ever fingerprinted in Canada for a criminal charge, obtaining a Pardon (Record Suspension) first is generally advisable and could allow you to cross the border without issue. But it is not an absolute guarantee that your admission into the United States will be hassle free. For example, if a U.S. Customs Officer were to ask you if you’ve ever been criminally charged or fingerprinted, you would be obliged to answer honestly even after you’ve obtained a Pardon. And that honest answer could make you inadmissible to the U.S. Additionally, no one in Canada can say with certainty the exact information available to U.S. Custom Officers when you try to cross the border. For these reasons, it is usually advisable to obtain a U.S. Waiver if you don’t wish to leave your admissibility to chance when seeking to cross the border.
Can I Do My Own Waiver Application?
It is absolutely your privilege to try. 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 become invalid, and you will have to start the process over from the beginning. For most Canadians, it makes sense to ensure their application is done accurately and correctly the first time.
Should I Get a Lawyer to do My Waiver Application?
That is absolutely your option, however, you will likely be subject to legal fees and disbursements that are 3-4x higher than retaining Pardon Applications of Canada. In addition, lawyers do not have the same expedited application process, nor do they have a higher chance of success. They may not be specialized in Waiver applications at all. In fact, many lawyers utilize Pardon Applications of Canada as their processing firm and then charge their clients a premium when the work is done. By going directly through Pardon Applications of Canada, you pay a lower overall fee and avoid surprising legal costs.
How Long Will it Take to Get 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. There are two distinct phases of a Waiver application process.
The 1st stage is to properly process your application in accordance with the specifications set out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This is the 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 2nd stage of your application process.
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.
View more information on US Waiver Timelines.
I’ve Crossed the Border Before. Why do I Need a Waiver?
You have been fortunate. You may 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 more thorough check and scan of 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.
No matter how long ago you got your criminal record, or how minor the offence, it is critical that you apply for a U.S. Entry Waiver if you wish to travel to the U.S. without risk.
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.