US Entry Waiver Service
Have you been denied entry to the United States because of a criminal record?
If you have been denied entry to the US because of a criminal record you will need advance permission to enter the US in the form of a US entry waiver (sometimes called a US travel waiver or a US waiver).
Commissionaires can assist you with our simple, confidential and affordable US entry waiver service:
- with friendly, professional, and knowledgeable service agents to help you;
- conducted in a confidential setting – individual rights and privacy are assured;
- a lower cost alternative to other providers with no hidden fees;
- using the latest digital technology for reliable capture of fingerprints required, which makes processing your application much quicker;
- are offered in multiple languages at many locations.
The US can refuse admission to any person convicted of a criminal offence. This means that if you have a criminal record, you should obtain a US entry waiver to ensure that you will not be turned back at the border and that you can legally travel to, or through, the US.
Anyone granted a US entry waiver should be at no risk of being refused entry to the US. A US entry waiver overrides any personal discretion border guards may have.
Records of criminal convictions are kept in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) computer database. CPIC is connected to the US National Crime Information Centre (NCIC), which is accessible by US Customs, Immigration and State Police departments. Once a US official has checked a record, it is kept in the NCIC even after a pardon is obtained in Canada. A US entry waiver will be added to your record, resolving any further issue of border travel.
How to Get Started
Please contact one of our convenient Commissionaires processing locations to make your initial confidential appointment. Our friendly, knowledgeable US entry waiver service agent will review the application process and answer all your questions. During this first appointment, your fingerprints will be taken as a first step in the application. Please ensure you have all the necessary identification in hand before you visit our office.
You should bring two pieces of valid government issued identification and one must be a photo ID. The following are types of acceptable identification. Please check with your local office for additional types of identification that may be accepted:
- Driver's Licence
- Birth Certificate
- Canadian Citizenship Card
- Permanent Resident Card
- Certificate of Indian Status
- Immigration Documents i.e., work or study permits
- Military Family ID card (MFID)
- Record of Landing for Citizenship Applicant
- Certificate of Live Birth
Our reasonable fees are payable by all major credit cards, and debit or cash at most of our locations. Please check locations to confirm.
US entry waiver service is available at many of our ID service centres across the country. Please search for the location nearest you to make your first appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions about US Entry Waivers
What will I need to provide to get a US entry waiver?
Your knowledgeable Commissionaires service agent will explain in detail what you will need to provide. Some of the items we will require to prepare your application include:
- A letter from your employer stating current occupation and length of service including the need for you to travel to the US if applicable;
- If self-employed, a copy of your last tax return;
- Three (3) letters of reference from members of the community (not relatives);
- Two (2) recent passport photographs;
- A copy of passport or driver’s licence showing nationality;
- $585 US payable to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when your application is presented.
How much does it cost to get a US entry waiver?
There are various costs associated with the preparation of an application for a US entry waiver. These fall into three primary categories:
- Costs associated with getting your criminal record files (e.g., digital fingerprinting);
- Commissionaires service fees (contact the location closest to you for details);
- A fee of $585 US payable to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How long does it take to receive a US entry waiver?
The application process for a US entry waiver can take from six to 18 months depending on its complexity.
What do I need to know before traveling to the US?
International events, such as 9-11, have led the US Department of Homeland Security to take numerous measures to increase border security services. The most important thing to know when you are traveling to the US is that if you have a Canadian criminal record, or if you are suspected of having a criminal record, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can legally prevent you from entering the country. DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have access to the RCMP’s databases such as CPIC and APIS.
Once the border agent enters your name into their database, your criminal file will show up with an FPS# number attached to your name. This FPS# prevents you from entering the US.
How do I prevent the border guards from refusing or stopping me at the US borders?
If you have a Canadian criminal record you are at risk of being denied entry into the US. You can ensure you will not be denied entry to the US by getting a US entry waiver. Anyone granted a US entry waiver should be at no risk of being refused entry to the US. A US entry waiver overrides any personal discretion border guards may have.
What is a US entry waiver?
A US entry waiver is a document issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that grants entry to a Canadian citizen with a conviction into the US. The waiver will remove all risks of being refused entry at the border. Because the DHS is considered a “superior governing body” to the border guards, it overrides any discretion the guards might have when you try to cross the border. A US entry waiver can be granted for a period of one (1), two (2) or five (5) years by the US Government and can be renewed. (It is recommended you start the renewal process six months prior to the expiry of your US entry waiver.) The length of the waiver normally depends on the extent or seriousness of the crimes you have committed and the period of time that has elapsed since conviction. Once you have received your US entry waiver, you will be legally permitted to enter the US despite your criminal record.
What is the difference between getting a pardon and a US entry waiver?
Depending on your situation, you might need 1) a pardon and / or 2) a US entry waiver. If you have never been refused entry into the US for having a criminal record, a Canadian pardon may suffice to enter the US.
However, if you have been denied entry at the border for a criminal record, you will need a US entry waiver. If you have been stopped at the border and were refused entry because of your criminal record, your record will forever stay in the US Department of Homeland Security criminal database. Canadian pardons are not recognized by the US government if they are aware of your conviction but US entry waivers are.
If you have not been refused entry prior to getting your pardon, the border guards and the Department of Homeland Security may not know of your previous criminal record unless you tell them at the border.
Do I need a pardon before I apply for a US entry waiver?
You do not need to apply for, or receive a pardon before applying for a US entry waiver. If you need to travel to the US and have a Canadian criminal record you can choose to apply only for a US entry waiver to ensure access to the US.
However, if you have a Canadian criminal record and have not been pardoned, and the requisite amount of time has elapsed, you may want to consider applying for a pardon at the same time. Commissionaires offers a fast a affordable pardons service.
If I have received a pardon am I guaranteed entry to the US?
A pardon is not recognized by the US border guards. If at any time you have been denied access to the US, you will still be denied access to the US even if you have a pardon. You must apply for a US entry waiver.
Can my application for a US entry waiver be denied by the US government?
If you are deemed to be high-risk to re-offend, your application for a US entry waiver will most likely be turned down. Generally, applicants with numerous drug trafficking and/or sex related offenses are considered to be high-risk re-offenders. Other reasons why your US waiver might be denied includes: 1) the risk of harm to the society if the applicant is admitted, 2) the seriousness of the applicant’s prior violation(s) of immigration or criminal law, if any and 3) the nature of the applicant’s reasons for seeking entry.
What are the rights of the border guards? How much discretion do they have to refuse my entry?
The US border guards are given permission by US law to refuse entry to anyone for any and all convictions showing up on your criminal record without taking into account the details of the crime(s). Anyone granted a US entry waiver should be at no risk of being refused entry to the US. A US entry waiver overrides any personal discretion border guards may have.
What are some of the risks associated with entering the US illegally?
There are numerous risks involved in trying to enter the US illegally. You are not only exposing yourself to a refusal of entry but also confiscation of your property, which could include the seizure of your vehicle. You will also most likely be detained or incarcerated for entering the US in an illegal manner. There are numerous risks involved in entering the US illegally such as:
- Confiscation of your vehicle
- Inability to travel internationally via the US
- Loss of travel expenses
- Refused entry / Voluntary departure
- Lost business opportunity
- Missed vacation opportunity
People traveling to the US with you face the same risk as you because of your inadmissibility. If you are traveling with a friend or relative that is aware of your inadmissibility and you do not have a US entry waiver, your friend or relative could be subject to all of the above risks AND they can be charged and convicted with harboring an illegal alien, an offence that would make them inadmissible to the US.
It is noteworthy to mention that you might think you are still in Canada while trying to cross the border but you will most likely be under US jurisdiction if you lie to US border guards. Being honest with US border guards will likely only result in your entry being denied with no further consequences.
Note: This rule only applies to the US. You may not be prevented from travelling to other countries around the world. However, if your method of traveling to another country is flying, you will still be prevented from landing in the United-States to do a flight transfer.