Last summer nearly 7 million trips across the United States border were undertaken by Canadian citizens[1]. Unfortunately, this number does not include the many Canadians who were denied entry to the US due to an existing criminal record and were therefore unable to enter for work or travel. Many clients of ours have booked expensive vacations to tourist destinations in the United States, only to have these plans abruptly halted by the lingering effect of a criminal record. If you have a criminal record in Canada then it is very important you obtain a U.S. entry waiver, (sometimes referred to as an I-192 Waiver application) before attempting to cross the border. Only then will you be guaranteed access to the United States.

What if my charges are very old?

Many Canadians are convinced of the fact that since their charges are very old, they will not be denied access to the United States. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and many of our clients have records from thirty years ago or more. If you believe you have a criminal record, or simply cannot remember whether or not you have one, it is highly recommended that you conduct a criminal record search on yourself before making travel plans into the United States. At that point, you can determine whether or not you require a U.S. entry waiver as issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

What if I have withdrawn, discharged, or stayed charges on my record?

In many cases in Canada, charges are laid against an individual but are, for whatever reason, withdrawn, stayed, or discharged either absolutely or conditionally. While you may not have been convicted of these charges, they can still be used as discretionary grounds on which you can be denied entry into the United States. Of specific concern is the United States’ zero-tolerance policy on drugs, and special caution must be taken with charges such as possession and/or trafficking in marijuana, or any other illicit substance.

Are there any exceptions to this?

The United States has been consistent in allowing entry to those convicted with ONE (1) charge of “Driving with more than 80 mg of alcohol in blood” under s.253(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada(commonly known as an impaired charge, or a DUI). However multiple convictions under s.253(b) will potentially result in being denied at the border.

We advise all Canadians to take the consequences of having a criminal record very seriously when making travel arrangements, and as always our Client Specialists are willing to offer their services in compiling a United States entry waiver on your behalf.

You may also want to read Can you enter Canada with a DUI for more details on visiting or entering Canada with a DUI. If you are a Canadian denied entry to the US due to a criminal record, contact AllCleared today to discuss your options at 1-866-972-7366.

[1]Figure a product of July, August, and September 2011 travel numbers, retrieved from the US Office of Travel & Tourism Industries