A retirement steeped in travel is possible, even with a criminal record

For Canadians, the term “snowbird” conjures up one of two things: the famous Ann Murray song or travelling south for the winter.

The term “snowbird” is often used to describe sun-seekers leaving the cold climes of Canada and heading southward to warmer locales such as Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.

If you ask most people what they plan to do when they retire, most choose to travel. It’s understandable. All those arduous years working and caring for children are but a distant memory and now it’s time to say goodbye to harsh winters and hello to some fun in the sun.

Travel to the southern states lets you and yours enjoy a summer-like life all year long. Kayaking peacefully along the coastline in the warm sun beats shoveling snow in minus degree weather. Some snowbirds opt for an RV and hit the highway destine for peace and tranquility, others want to take to the skies for faster travel and longer lounging poolside. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, you’re retired and you’ve got the time—don’t let that past offence stand in your way of the perfect retirement.

For some, there is a snag to living out that retirement dream – a record of that past criminal act that just hasn’t gone away. That marijuana possession charge you got many years ago affects your ability to travel freely across the border. Let’s face it, being held in Canada all year round wasn’t part of the dream – Winnipeg is a beautiful city, but there are no beaches boasting 40+ weather.

Data shows that most people applying for record suspensions are doing so for employment purposes but a good percentage (especially of older applicants) apply to support their own self-fulfillment – such as being able to volunteer or travel.

For those with a past criminal record, even if you have a Record Suspension (or “pardon” as it is called in the US or previously called in Canada), you can be denied entry to the US. Your record suspension removes your data from the CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) database, but that doesn’t necessarily provide you clear sailing out of the country.

If you have a criminal record, you may need to obtain a US Entry Waiver. Some types of criminal records, such as a DUI, will not prevent you from travelling to the US like any other Canadian citizen. However, if you have a past conviction for drug possession or “crime of moral turpitude”, you may need such a waiver. Keep in mind that even a possession charge from your university days can make you inadmissible to the United States.

With a US Entry Waiver, you can freely travel to and spend winters in the United States but it may take some planning as it can take about a year, from start-to-finish, to get a waiver.

Most snowbirds have a pretty good chance of getting a US Entry Waiver because their records are well in the past. If you are a ‘snowbird, looking to experience the freedom of travel or retiring in the US part-time, contact AllCleared for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366 or email [email protected] and one of our team members will walk you through the process of a US Entry Waiver. The world is your oyster, you just need to get out there and discover it for yourself—you’ve earned it!

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