A US Entry Waiver can be good for six months to five years. You might see references to permanent waivers online; however, those references are out of date. In fact, the US government no longer offers permanent waivers.
What is a US Entry Waiver?
A US Waiver is a permit that allows you to overcome inadmissibility. For instance, you may be inadmissible if you have a criminal record.
Not all Canadians will be inadmissible with a criminal record. It depends on the nature of the offence. In the US, this is determined by a concept known as “moral turpitude.” This is quite hard to define and frequently changes. We do know that DUI does not normally result in a ban on US entry.
On the other hand, border agents will almost always bar you for drug offences.
Can I request a longer waiver?
The six-month waiver is quite rare. You are more likely to receive a one-year waiver on the first try. However, sometimes people get frustrated when the US gives them a one-year waiver.
Unfortunately, you cannot request a longer waiver. The good news is that it will usually be longer the second time you apply. In fact, we are seeing more and more clients being given five year waivers on the first try.
The government will decide on the length of the waiver based on the seriousness of the offence and how long ago it was. There is no formula that will tell you how long your waiver will be. The Department of Homeland Security has a lot of discretion as do border agents. In addition to the nature of the offence, they will look at your explanations for what happened and the quality of the references. The more serious and recent the offence, the more important it is to put together a convincing application.
What can you do?
Because the Department of Homeland Security has so much discretion, it’s important to put together a good application. Make sure you don’t skip any steps. Make sure your letter of circumstances does not paint you in a bad light. When describing your offences, don’t be defensive or argumentative. Simply state what happened.
About six months before your waiver expires, you should start the process again. You’ll have to collect many of the same documents and fill out the same form. However, it will seem much easier the second time, and you have a greater chance of getting the five-year waiver (if you haven’t already).
If you feel like you’re a pro after the first application, we offer a self-guided process, which will save you money and provide assistance to get it done right.
If you need assistance preparing your US Entry Waiver, contact us today at 1-866-972-7366.