What do you need to obtain a USA entry waiver?
Some of the items required 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 USA 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 license showing nationality
- $585 US payable to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when your application is presented
What is the cost of a USA entry waiver?
There are various costs associated with the preparation of an application for a USA 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)
- $585 US payable to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
How long does it take to receive a USA entry waiver?
The application process for a USA Entry Waiver can take from six to 18 months, depending on its complexity.
What do I need to know before traveling to the USA?
The most important thing to know when you are travelling to the USA 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 RCMP 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 USA.
How do I prevent the border guards from refusing entry or stopping me at the USA borders?
If you have a Canadian criminal record, you are at risk of being denied entry into the USA. You can ensure you will not be denied entry to the USA by obtaining a USA entry waiver. Anyone granted a USA entry waiver should not be at risk of refused entry to the USA. A USA entry waiver overrides any personal discretion border guards may have.
What is the difference between obtaining a record suspension (pardon) and a USA entry waiver?
Depending on your situation, you might need (1) a pardon and/or (2) a USA entry waiver. If you have never been refused entry into the USA for having a criminal record, a Canadian pardon may suffice to enter the USA.
However, if you were denied entry at the border due to a criminal record, you will need a USA entry waiver. If you were stopped at the border and 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.
What is a USA entry waiver?
A USA 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 USA 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.
Do I need a record suspension (pardon) before I apply for a USA entry waiver?
You do not need to apply for, or receive a Record Suspension (Pardon) before applying for a USA entry waiver. If you need to travel to the USA and have a Canadian criminal record, you can choose to apply only for a USA 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 affordable pardons service.
If I have received a record suspension (pardon) am I guaranteed entry to the USA?
A pardon is not recognized by the USA border guards. If, at any time, you have been denied access to the USA, you will still be denied access to the US even if you have a pardon. You must apply for a USA entry waiver.
Can my application for a USA entry waiver be denied by the USA 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 to re-offend. Other reasons why your USA entry waiver might be denied include: (1) the risk of harm to 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 USA border guards are given permission by USA 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 USA entry waiver should be at no risk of refused Entry to the USA. A USA entry waiver overrides any personal discretion border guards may have.
What are some of the risks associated with entering the USA illegally?
There are numerous risks involved in trying to enter the USA 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 likely be detained or incarcerated for entering the USA in an illegal manner. There are numerous risks involved in entering the USA 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
Anyone accompanying you to the US faces the same risk as you because of your inadmissibility. If you are travelling 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 USA.
It is important to mention that although you may think you are still in Canada while trying to cross the border, you will most likely be under USA jurisdiction if you lie to US border guards.
Note: This rule only applies to the USA. You may not be prevented from travelling to other countries around the world. However, if your method of travelling to another country is flying, you will still be prevented from landing in the United States to do a flight transfer.