Travelling is stressful without the additional worry of being denied entry because of a criminal record. In most cases, border officers of the country you’re visiting will determine whether or not you are allowed entry. How a criminal record affects your travel plans will vary from country to country.
Travel between the US and Canada is relatively strict. Travelers who have committed “crimes involving moral turpitude” may be denied entry at the US border. These offences include theft, fraud, tax evasion, murder and more. Travelers to the US may be denied entry for any antiquated offences appearing on their record.
When traveling to the US, be advised that Canada and the US share border security information. Border officers may access your record at will. They may also ask you to voluntarily disclose information regarding your record. In both cases, compliance is advised. Visiting Canada with a criminal record is difficult due to the ability of Customs officials to search the FBI database. Likewise, US border guards are able to search Canadian criminal records.
Besides the “type” of offence, the time since an offence is committed may factor into your admission. In countries such as the UK, you may overcome inadmissibility if you committed or were convicted of an offence carrying less than a five-year prison term. If your conviction resulted in a fine or imprisonment of less than six months, you may be deemed rehabilitated after five years or less from when sentencing for an offence is carried out. Imprisonment of 6 to 30 months may take 10 years to be deemed naturally rehabilitated.
It is not always feasible to wait 5 to 10 years to be deemed rehabilitated, especially when traveling to countries, such as the US, where automatic rehabilitation is not recognized.
Similarly, there are crimes that will make you inadmissible to Canada, in which case you may need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Canadian Waiver.
Travelling with a criminal record tips
If you have a criminal record, applying for a travel waiver before travelling may be a safer bet than hoping your destination country does not check for past convictions and misdemeanors. Most countries outside the US and Canada do not have a travel waiver program, but will decide each case individually.
If you are a frequent traveler however, applying at a border or consulate, each time you travel is not be a durable solution. Applying for a Record Suspension is a more permanent solution.
To erase records of criminal conviction, you must apply for and be granted a Record Suspension. After a waiting period of 5 or 10 years, most records of criminal conviction become eligible for suspension.
While a Canadian pardon may not be automatically transferable to your destination country, it can act as proof of your rehabilitation. Most importantly, it allows you to answer truthfully to questions regarding your record.
Keep in mind that the US does not recognize Canadian pardons or Record Suspensions. You must apply for a US Entry Waiver.
If you are ready to move forward with your future and enjoy the freedom of travel, contact us today for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366. Share your goals with us and we’ll help you find the right application.