If you have a criminal record and you would like to enter the United States you may need a US Entry Waiver. This application, if approved, waives your inadmissibility to the United States.

Other reasons a person could be denied entry to the US are health conditions, security reasons or immigration violations.

However, the most common reason a Canadian will be denied entry is due to a criminal record.

What types of criminal records require a US Entry Waiver?

There are two main types of records that require a US Entry Wavier:

  • Drug charges
  • Crimes of moral turpitude

Drug charges

Whether you were charged with personal possession or drug trafficking you will need a waiver to enter the United States.

As well, a conviction is not necessarily required to cause you to be denied entry. Recently, several people have been denied entry just for admitting to marijuana use. It is not known if the US authorities will amend their policies once recreational marijuana becomes legalized in Canada.

Moral turpitude

Moral turpitude is a concept that turns up a lot in US immigration law. It’s difficult to understand, but it generally refers to intent. For example, stealing a car may be moral turpitude, but joyriding may not be. The difference is that in one case the person intended to deprive the owner of the car of property.

Types of moral turpitude charges include:

  • Theft, burglary and robbery
  • Assault
  • Fraud
  • Vandalism
  • Manslaughter and murder
  • Prostitution


DUI and other alcohol-related impaired driving offences are the most common types of criminal conviction in Canada. If you have a single conviction for one of these offences, you are generally allowed to enter the United States.

Exceptions may occur if you have multiple infractions or there were aggravating factors.

Denied entry

If you have ever been denied entry to the United States, you probably already know that you are ineligible to enter. Generally, they will tell you that you need a waiver, ask you to sign a document and flag you in the system.

Once you have been flagged it is next to impossible to enter, so you will have to apply for a waiver. This is because in the past they would have had to send you to secondary screening, search the database and pull up your record. Now that they have pulled your record, it is available at primary screening and will turn up when they scan your passport.

What if you have a pardon or Record Suspension?

Unfortunately, the US government does not recognize Canadian pardons. This means that you will need to get a US Entry Waiver. US border officers discover your record by searching Canada’s national database, which is called CPIC. Some companies will tell you that if you have never been secondarily screened before, you are not flagged and, therefore, your record will be sealed in the US when you get a Record Suspension.

However, the US does not rely on the most recent version of CPIC. They regularly download the database and can discover not only current criminal records but also pardoned or suspended records, discharges and non-conviction information.

Non-conviction information

If there is an assumption of guilt, you can be denied entry to the United States even if you do not have a criminal record. This could happen if you received a conditional or absolute discharge.

However, border officers have broad discretion to deny entry and could also refuse you if you have a peace bond or were found not guilty due to a mental illness. In fact, some people have even been denied entry for past mental-illness-related police calls that did not result in charges.

If you are not sure if you require a US Entry Waiver, our client advisors can review your record with a free consultation. If you need a US Waiver and would like to know about the process and what services we offer, contact us today for more information at 1-866-972-7366.