Canada and the United States have a strong history of criminal record sharing. This often becomes an issue for Canadians who attempt to cross into the United States, and are denied due to their criminal record. United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) are one agency that is able to access Canadian criminal records. They can do this by checking the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), which is the repository for all Canadian federal criminal records.
Information such as this has been shared with the United States for quite some time, but soon the United States and Canada may be doing an increased amount of criminal record sharing. A new perimeter security deal between the two countries is planned to come into effect by the year 2014, and outlines new initiatives such as biographic and biometric data sharing; which would include photographs, fingerprints, and other personal information. These new initiatives have caused concern with Canadians about what might be done with their records, and who they might become available to. It’s also important to note that, in Canada, criminal records and police files are accessed by using an individual’s fingerprints, and so releasing fingerprint information may also result in greater accessibility of Canadian criminal records to non-Canadian agencies.
Anyone who is charged with a criminal offence in Canada has their fingerprints taken, and a record of this charge is stored in CPIC along with that person’s biographic information. Currently, USCBP is required to take an individual’s fingerprints in order to confirm his or her criminal record in Canada, but this may not be the case in the future. This is a potential problem especially for Canadians who have been able to cross the border without issue for years, despite having a prior criminal record. There have also been concerns about how data from prospective Canadian immigrants will be shared with the United States, who may then forward that information to third countries.
Visiting Canada with a criminal record is also more difficult due to criminal record sharing.
How can I help keep my records private?
If you are concerned about the United States’ access to your criminal record and criminal record sharing, you may want to have your record cleared from CPIC prior to these legislative and privacy changes being made. To do so, you would require a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Canadian Pardon). Since this application can take up to a year to complete in some cases, we recommend you apply today to have your criminal record cleared as soon as possible.
Additionally, if you are denied entry into the United States due to these increasingly stringent security protocols, you will be required to obtain a United States Entry Waiver if you wish to continue traveling into or through the United States. Compiling this application is a service that Pardon Services Canada has been providing for many years, and will gladly provide to you. If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to contact our offices for a free consultation.