Originally published by Bob Kraft.
If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Canada, American law prohibits you from entering the United States. That is, unless you can provide the authorities with a document known as a U.S. waiver. Entering the United States without this document is an illegal act that can lead to your deportation back to Canada and possible arrest. In addition, should you be caught in the United States illegally, immigration officials have the right and the discretion to confiscate your personal property, including your vehicle. Don’t put yourself at that risk. Learn what you need to do to apply for a U.S. waiver before you make your travel plans.
Essentially, a U.S. waiver is a document in which you admit that you have a criminal record and that provides the details of the criminal record to the American Federal Government. If you are granted a waiver, you will be allowed access to travel to the United States for a period of 5 years. After that period has elapsed, you will have to renew your waiver. The amount of time you will be allowed to stay in the United States each time you go will be outlined on the waiver. This amount of time will vary depending on the seriousness of your crimes and how much time has passed since your conviction. The same waiver can be used several times up until its expiration date.
It’s important to know how a waiver is recorded and “stored.” When you receive a conviction in Canada, that record is held in the Canadian Police Information Centre, a computer database. That database is linked with the U.S. National Crime Information Centre, a database that can be accessed by US Customs, Immigration and the police. When you attempt to cross into the United States, your record will be checked. Note that once a U.S. official checks your record, that record is stored in the NCIC even if you receive a pardon in Canada. An entry waiver will be added to your record when granted, which will show up when your record is accessed, thereby eliminating any troubles with your travel plans.
How to apply for a U.S. entry waiver
It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you through the U.S. waiver application process. The process is quite complex and it’s important to ensure everything is done properly.
In addition to the waiver application form, you are going to require certain forms of identification. Accepted forms of identification include:
Certificate of Indian Status
Permanent Resident card
Immigration documents (study permits, etc.)
You will also need some secondary supporting documents, such as:
A letter from your employer outlining your job description and length of time in that position (and whether your need to enter the United States is related to our job)
Your most recent tax return
Letters of reference from your community, and
Two recent passport photos
There is also an application fee that you’ll have to pay. This can be paid by cash, credit card, or debit card.
Once you have your documentation, you can make an appointment with a U.S. Entry Waiver Service Agent. At this appointment, the agent will review your application and answer any questions you may have. You will also have your fingerprints taken at this appointment. This is to verify your identity so that it can be certified by the RCMP and FBI.
Once the application form is complete accurately and the support documents and application fee are gathered, the INS will review your application package. This can take up to a year. Because of that, it is very important to initiate the process as soon as possible if you plan to travel to the United States.
If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Canada, you may think your plans to travel to the United States have been sidelined. That’s not the case. A U.S. Entry Waiver can be your ticket to travel to the United States even if you have a criminal record. Contact a lawyer or waiver specialist today to help you through the process.
Author Information: Staci Rae has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 15 years. She has worked on a wide variety of projects for a kaleidoscope of clients, from websites and guest blog posts to academic writing and ghostwriting 3 fiction books. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and their 8-year-old daughter.
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