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Entering the United States with a Criminal Record

People frequently travel to the United States for a variety of reasons, such as business, family matters, vacations, education, volunteering, and job prospects. Such travel is a privilege, and the relative freedom to do so is not to be taken lightly.

Sometimes the need to travel to the US can arise unexpectedly, so being prepared is a good idea. Anyone with a criminal record will more than likely be prevented from crossing the border due to concerns for public safety. The US government wants to be assured that anyone allowed to enter their country presents only a minimal risk. The United States exercises particular discretion regarding whom they allow to enter and routinely turn away people whose names they can match to one in their criminal record database, even if the offence was minor and committed a long time ago.

Deciding which applicant will obtain a US entry waiver (waiver of inadmissibility) is an arbitrary matter, and when considering an application, officials will take into account several factors, including:

Risk an applicant presents to homeland security: Such factors as involvement with a terrorist organization or minimal effort to lead a law-abiding, settled lifestyle will naturally negatively affect the decision.

Nature and gravity of offence: US authorities will understandably be more likely to issue a waiver to a person who has committed a less serious crime. This consideration, though, does not rule out the approval of more serious offenders.

Reason for entering the US: Any of the above noted reasons are relevant; however, giving specific details on the application about the degree to which the reason is of significance to the applicant can influence the final decision.

When offence was committed: Passage of time does allow for rehabilitation and reintegration and will probably positively affect the decision.

Offender’s personal situation: Pressing matters such as a family member’s health or professional obligations can also positively affect the decision.

Here are some common concerns expressed by people wanting to travel to the United States, with helpful information:

What makes a person inadmissible to the US? People are deemed inadmissible because of health related diseases, criminal grounds, and security grounds. Additionally, if you have been classed as an illegal immigrant or have violated immigration terms, you will be inadmissible. If you have a criminal record, you are not allowed even to fly over the United States – that is considered “entering” the US. A majority of flights out of Canada must fly over the US to access other countries. Even if you have received a pardon in Canada, the US can still see your record as the US Department of Homeland Security has full access to all the Canadian Police Information Centre records.

Although I am considered “inadmissible,” why have I been able to travel to the states a few times? US border officials are not always able to run record checks each time you cross. However, if you are inadmissible, crossing without a waiver is a serious offence, which can result in the confiscation of your property or vehicle, arrest, detention, or deportation. Moreover, those travelling with you may be barred from ever entering the United States or charged with harboring a criminal, as well as being classed as inadmissible.

I am HIV positive. Am I inadmissible to the United States? Since January 2010, people infected with the HIV virus are no longer inadmissible and can enter into the United States without problem and are no longer required to file Form I-601.

How do I apply for a waiver? You must obtain an application form from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. You must also submit a U.S. Fingerprint chart FD-258 and a copy of your Canadian police record or a certificate of no record if applicable. If you have convictions from other countries, you must also submit the records to cover these. A copy of the official court record from the actual court of conviction indicating plea indictment, conviction, and disposition for each and every crime committed anywhere in the world. You must also enclose a personal declaration giving details about each arrest and evidence of reform and rehabilitation.

Do I need to use a lawyer to get a waiver? You can apply on your own, but if you do use a lawyer or representative you must fill out Form G-28. Lawyers and representatives are not allowed to accompany their clients to waiver hearings.

When can I apply for a US waiver? You can apply for a waiver at any time, although if you have an immigration violation against you, you may have to wait between 3 and 20 years before you are eligible to apply.

How long will it take for me to obtain a US waiver? It takes around six months to a year to get a waiver. Most first time waivers are issued for one year, after which you will need to reapply.

What must I prove when applying for a waiver? You must provide complete assurance that you are not a risk to US society. You can do this by proving that you have been on a rehabilitation course; that 15 years have passed since the action that made you inadmissible; that your absence would cause economic hardship to immediate dependents. The severity of your criminal or immigration crimes are taken into account when reviewing your waiver application along with your reasons for wanting to enter the United States.

How and where should I submit my waiver application? You must submit your application in person at a US Customs and Border Protection Preclearance Center, many of which are located at ports of entry into the United States.

A large number of US Entry Waiver applications filed directly by individuals without assistance are rejected. Many people find the process time-consuming, difficult, and lengthy. Pardon Service Canada’s proven methods ensure that you receive the most professional, up-to-date assistance available.

Contact a Client Specialist at Pardon Services Canada who can provide you with the assistance you need.

Safeguard Your US Travel Plans

Canada’s close ties with the US – economic, political, and cultural – ensure that Canadians traveling to the US need to present only a valid passport when crossing the border. Nevertheless, any Canadian citizen with a criminal conviction who merely attempts to do so breaks American law. A criminal conviction must be disclosed to border authorities.

The Canadian Police Information Centre shares information on criminal records in Canada with the US Department of Homeland Security. A criminal conviction will more than likely show up during a background check at a border crossing point. Unless a traveler has a valid US waiver, as a minimum he can expect to be turned back and banned from entering the US. Not only will he risk refusal for entry, he could also face confiscation of property, including possible seizure of his vehicle. This includes any vehicle with a passenger with a criminal record, not just the driver. He can even be arrested and charged.

Even if, in the past, a person with a criminal record has crossed the border without complication as their conviction has not turned up, in this electronic age information is constantly being compiled and circulated. Nowadays, a background check can reveal decades-old convictions. As well, having received a pardon might not make a difference. Canadian pardons are not recognized by the DHS; and although the CPIC will not disclose a criminal record for which a pardon has been granted, the information might have entered the American database before the pardon was granted. Finally, attempting to cross the border in remote areas where there are no guards is ill-advised. Electronic sensors exist at many points to detect suspicious movement and alert authorities.

Consequently, Canadians planning to travel to the US should note the following:
 • A Canadian with a criminal conviction needs a US entry waiver of ineligibility from the DHS.
 • Apply for the waiver well ahead of time – the process can take up to ten months.
 • A person with a criminal record does not need to have received a pardon in order to apply for a waiver.
 • A person who has been granted a US waiver cannot be refused entry at the border.
 • A waiver is valid for a period of only one to five years, after which it will have to be renewed.

A waiver will allow a person to visit the United States without worry. If you need a waiver, Pardon Services Canada's role and familiarity with the process will ensure that all documents required are obtained in a timely manner and that your case is processed expeditiously. Contact a Client Specialist at Pardon Services Canada now to guide you through the process.

Traveling to Mexico with a Canadian Criminal Record? What you should know before you go.

There has been increased media awareness of the dangers of traveling to the United States with a Canadian Criminal Record after an ever growing number of Canadians are being turned away, now needing U.S. Entry Waivers. What about Canada’s other NAFTA partner, the one with the beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, gorgeous resorts and spectacular ruins? Are these also off limits to Canadians with a criminal record?

According to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada      

Canadians traveling to Mexico with a criminal record might be refused entry and returned to Canada on the next available flight. Canadians in this situation should contact the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa prior to making travel arrangements.




Furthermore,

“Since March 1, 2010, Canadian citizens, including those with dual nationality, are required to present a valid passport in order to enter and exit Mexico. Canadians without a valid passport will be refused entry and returned to Canada.”

So, Canadians who have a criminal record should take measures before planning a trip to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta to avoid getting turned away at the border.

In addition, even though Mexico has less stringent screening measures than the United States; Canadians with a criminal record face another danger. There are many testimonies of people going to Mexico for a vacation or on business and stopping over in Houston or Los Angeles. When they lay-over in these American hubs they are questioned and sent back to Canada. This is a result of the Information Sharing Acts between Canada and the U.S. You can read more about these regulations in this article.

Don’t get turned back either in Mexico, or on your trip through the States. Get a Canadian Pardon to hide the existence of the record from U.S. and Mexican border authorities. Take that family vacation that you always wanted without fear of getting turned away. Apply Today!

The U.S. - The New No-Fly Zone for Record Holders

On March 23, 2011, “Bill C-42: An Act to Amend the Aeronautics Act” received Royal assent and became law in Canada. Prior to passage of the amendment, the Aeronautics Act already permitted airline operators to share passenger data with foreign agencies that govern an international flight’s destination. This new amendment extends this information sharing by allowing the airlines to share passenger data with US transportation authorities for any flight that enters US airspace, even if that flight never touches down on US soil.


So what does this mean for the traveling public in Canada? Practically speaking, it means carriers must comply with the US Secure Flight Program by providing Passenger Name Records (PNRs) to US authorities for passengers ticketed on flights originating in Canada that either enters US airspace or that have an emergency alternate landing site in the US.  The PNRs are provided to US authorities 72 hours in advance of departure for the purpose of screening against the Terrorism Screening Center’s No Fly List prior to boarding. If US authorities deem that a passenger represents a security risk, that passenger will be subject to additional screening and may be denied boarding.

There have already been documented instances of travelers being denied boarding in Canada as a result of this new legislation. Unfortunately there is little that the traveling public can do in advance of departure to ensure they do not run afoul of the new policies. If a passenger has an existing redress number issued by the Department of Homeland Security then providing that information at the time of booking should prevent problems on the day of departure, but for travelers who have never had problems before (and who would therefore not have a redress number), there now exists this additional source of concern that their ability to travel 
domestically or internationally is ultimately at the discretion of the US Government.

Travel Services should inform their clients of this change in regulation and suggest that a Criminal Record Check, a U.S. Entry Waiver or a Canadian Pardon are services and rights that are available to all Canadians. 

Travelling to the United States with a Criminal Record? Fast Facts

Information Canadian Criminal Record holders need to know if they want to travel to America.
            
Can I go to the U.S. if I have a Criminal Record or Police File?
  • You CAN NOT enter the U.S. legally if you have a Criminal Record in Canada
  • If you get checked at the U.S. border with a criminal record you will be denied entry.
  • If you get denied entry you will be flagged every time you try and cross the border in the future
What do I do if I want to go to the U.S. and have a Canadian Criminal Record?
  • You need to apply for a U.S. Entry Waiver, also known as a U.S. Travel Waiver.
  • This document must be obtained from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, not the Canadian government
How long does a U.S. Waiver last? When Do U.S. Entry Waivers Expire?
  • A U.S. Entry Waiver application can be approved for either one, two or five years.
  • If you have ever been denied entry to the U.S. you will need this document every time you enter the U.S.
What happens when my U.S. waiver expires?
  • You can re-apply for the U.S. Entry Waiver after it expires
  • There is a possibility of getting a longer waiver on subsequent applications (e.g. going from a 1 year waiver to a 2 year, or even a 5 year on the second approved application)
How much does a U.S. waiver cost and how long does it take?
  •  A Standard U.S. Waiver can be obtained for $49.50 a month (over 10 months) and takes up to a year.
  •  A Premium U.S. Waiver can be obtained for $79.50 a month (over 10 months) and takes only 6 months.
      Where can I find additional information?

Canadians Getting More Than They Bargained For Crossing U.S. Border

 With a rising Canadian Dollar and more Canadians flocking south for shopping bargains, the risk to Canadians with a criminal record increases. A quick trip for gas can turn into a lifetime of U.S. Entry Waivers.

Canadian spending in the U.S. was way up in 2010, according to a Visa report. Spending went up 18% from the previous year, capping at $9.2 Billion. Last year Canadians, among all other nationalities, were also the biggest spenders in the U.S. A strong Canadian Dollar backed by rebounding Canadian industry, weak investor confidence State side and high oil prices promises great deals for Canadians. The trend continued into 2011 as the dollar has been trading at 105 against its U.S. counterpart - up 5.4 points since January. This recent growth brings the dollar to a 3 ½ year high against its American counterpart.

As the shopping migration continues en masse, Canadians would do well to remember that if they have a criminal record it is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that the traveler posses a U.S. Entry Waiver. U.S. Border Officials have been turning away more and more Canadians from the border as a quick check can uncover a past offence prompting a refusal of entry. 

On top of being denied entry at the border, any subsequent attempt to enter the U.S. from Canada is flagged and checked. The person caught trying to conceal their past or enter the U.S. without a waiver will be required to possess a U.S. Entry Waiver for the rest of their life.

More and more Canadians are getting caught in the tighter security blanket crossing the border to take advantage of great deals. Unfortunately, they are getting much more than they bargained for as a lifetime of U.S. Entry Waivers can result from one quick trip across for gas. The unfortunate thing is that for Canadians a criminal record check is quick and inexpensive. Canadians don’t need to be caught unsuspecting at the border.

*note: a Canadian Pardon will ensure that the U.S. government will not be able to see any previous criminal record 

Don’t Get Hit by the Omnibus: Pardon Regulation Set to Change

The brigade of campaign buses have been rolled out and the partisan trumpets are blasting party platform from coast to coast. Election time again in Canada. What does this mean for the Canadian Criminal Code and importantly, the issue of Pardons and the Pardoning Process?
                
The Conservative Party of Canada, under Stephen Harper, has announced that if elected with enough of the vote, they will pass an all-encompassing crime bill. These are generally known as omnibus bills – bills that contain multiple pieces of legislation that affect various segments of the legal code. This is not a footnote of Conservative Party platform. The Harper government wants to pass this bill within 100 days of the election on May 2nd.
               
Inside the bus is Bill-C23B. This bill has the purpose of giving the National Parole Board of Canada more discretion and power. The bill states “National Parole Board has…exclusive jurisdiction to grant or refuse to grant or to revoke a pardon”. Regardless of the merits of implementing this amendment and others to the Canadian Criminal Code the implication for Canadians remains clear. The process for applying for a pardon – soon to be known as “record suspension” – will become more difficult. Between 2009 and 2010, 7,000 applications to the NPB were rejected because they were incomplete or ineligible. With these amendments that number is bound to rise.
                
The large number of Canadians who are living with a criminal record, 13% and climbing, should be aware of the changes that will be coming down the legislative pipeline. There are options, Pardon Services exists to help Canadians successfully navigate the pardon process and arrive ultimately with a granted pardon. This enables Canadians to move forward, travel, receive due promotions and get employed. Pardon Services enables the growth of Canada and Canadians and will continue to do so as criminal legislation changes and moves forward.
                
If you are keen to get your pardon before the enactment of these legislations visit the most trusted pardon service provider to get the process started today.  

HIRING PRACTICES EXPOSED - Red Carded Before the Game

Increasingly, companies are using criminal record checks in their hiring process before even talking to the applicant. The criminal record check industry has provided a readily available, popular, and inexpensive tool for pre-screening hopeful applicants. This use, now widespread, eliminates all job candidates with criminal records. People with criminal records are routinely being denied any opportunity to establish their job qualifications. Such a “blanket” approach is clearly flawed if not plain wrong; it seems not only unreasonable but also potentially illegal under civil rights laws.

Criminal background checks serve to determine the safety and security risk of candidates for employment or promotion. However, to assume that the existence of a criminal record accurately predicts such risk is illogical. Employers are using these checks as a way of determining character rather than qualification. The best qualified or even well-qualified individuals are being swept aside irrationally. These blanket exclusions provide no opportunity for employers to consider critical information, such as the nature and age of an offence plus its relationship to the job.

Another emerging aspect is the potential for covert discrimination – using criminal records to screen applicants serves as a facially neutral selection process that invites consideration and review. As such, the National Employment Law Project’s March 2011 report urges employers to reconsider their current hiring policies. An individualized assessment should take into account the nature and gravity of the offense(s), the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job held or sought. This approach would ensure that people with criminal records are not eliminated for youthful indiscretions, minor run-ins with the law, or more serious offenses from long ago.


Supporting this approach is the fact that a criminal record is difficult to interpret, making it a misleading tool to determine risk on the job. The BC Civil Liberties Association has raised concerns about employers using the PRIME (Police Records Information Management Environment) database for pre-employment checks. In the past, this database was considered a highly confidential tool for law enforcement. One of the problems inherent in using this database now for employment screening is that some information is being recorded as “negative contact,” a concept far too broad in scope for employers to base life-defining decisions upon. If it is going to be used increasingly for background checks, people will be demanding greater access to ensure information provided is accurate. 


This is another example of what you don’t know can hurt you. How many people can tell you with 100% certainty what is in their file? How many of these hiring managers even know what their file says about them? If you are serious about your employment search or career advancement – do your best to have ALL the answers before you become excited about an application submission. Your past experiences, hard work, education and qualifications may be worth absolutely nothing to a potential employer if you set off a red flag. 


Weeding Out the Criminal Record with a Pardon

“Maturity,” “sophistication,” “wisdom”: The adage youth is wasted on the young comes to mind when one realizes that maturity makes a person less innocent, after sophistication results from education, when wisdom yields good judgment and insight.

Here is the story of one Canadian having realized more fully the effect of using marijuana and the benefits of discontinuing the habit.

He was charged with his offence when he was just 19 years of age, in his first year of university. He was apprehended coming off the train with an amount of marijuana and some cookies. At the time, he used marijuana as a stress reducer but has since stopped.

Since his conviction, he has gone on to get his degree in computer science. After graduation, he started working as a technical support representative for a consulting company and was promoted to a technical lead position after just one year. About two years later, he moved to the Maritimes where he currently works as a software support representative.

pardon has helped him to be able to apply to a broader scope of employment opportunities that previously were out of reach due to his criminal record. The background checks that potential employers might perform will now provide a clean slate with which he can move forward. His U.S. entry waiver will also allow him to travel freely to the U.S., which is required on occasion at his current job.

If you are in similar circumstances yourself, Contact Pardon Services Canada for help. You too can gain the wisdom that he most certainly has.

Sun of a Beach...Criminal Record Limits Travel

Canadians love to travel. This fact is reflected in the number of Canadians currently holding valid Canadian passports increasing to 60 percent from only 36 percent in 2005. Although the recession in 2008 kept many from travelling the way they would have liked, some choosing to pursue the “staycation” while the economy was sluggish, the number of people traveling has since rebounded.

During the 2010/2011 winter travel season, 10 percent more Canadians travelled to the US than the previous year, with Hawaii proving to be the one of the most attractive places. The US is a top destination for Canadians. In fact, several US locations are currently on the list of the top 25 beaches in the world for 2011. Unfortunately for some would be travelers, a Canadian criminal record limits your ability to travel to the US.

Travelling abroad has also seen a resurgence. In the winter, Canadians love the sun, choosing R & R on beaches and cruises. And during the other seasons, destinations like Mexico, Cuba, Britain, and China are increasingly popular. To take advantage of lower flight costs, a significant number of Canadian travelers are now going to the US for flights to US destinations and around the world.

Quite apparent is the position that the US holds in all these ventures. A predominance of travel is either to or through the US. What a shame it is that so many Canadians cannot even consider pursuing their dream vacations because they have a criminal record. Only through getting a pardon to remove that criminal record and receiving a waiver to gain entry into the US will that dream become a reality.

Spun Out of Control. . . Man Regains Life After Record Suspension.

“Regret,” “remorse,” “anguish,” “self-reproach” – all these feelings hang heavy when one truly realizes the consequences of wrong doing.

No matter how minor or serious the circumstance may be that a troubled person is contending with, to feel a measure of relief when having overcome the consequences is uplifting.
Here is the story of one person having become successful in his personal life putting his past behind him.
In 1987, he was found guilty of having a blood alcohol level exceeding .08 while driving. His vehicle hit some gravel, spun out of control, and rolled over. He is so very thankful that there were no other vehicles or individuals involved. He deeply regrets this incident and has made many positive changes in his life as a result. He has not, since the date of his conviction, driven under the influence of alcohol. This event has been something he has had to live with for over twenty years.
He has two teenage children currently learning to drive and looking forward to attending university. He often reminds them of his circumstances and strongly encourages them to learn from his mistakes.
He currently teaches in workshops for corporate clients. He greatly enjoys educating adults and seeing how their careers benefit. Increasingly, organizations are asking for criminal background checks in order to do work through a vendor. This record suspension has allowed him to continue to educate and not limit his ability to earn a living.
If you are in similar circumstances yourself, Contact Pardon Services Canada for help. You too can gain the peace of mind that he most certainly has.

Seeking A Pardon Is The Only Recourse To Removing A Criminal Record.

Since 1970, over 400,000 Canadians have been issued pardons. 96% of those recipients have remained crime free in our communities. Why have so many Canadians endeavored to obtain their pardons, ridding themselves of their criminal records? Once people convicted of a crime have completed their sentence, paid their fine, or complied in any other way that the courts have ordered, shouldn’t they feel relieved? Shouldn’t they be able to put their mind at rest knowing that they have “paid their dues” and can now move forward and re-establish?

The fact is that everyone wants to undo errors in judgment that led them to having a criminal record. Get a new job, volunteer at their children’s school, coach a sports team, adopt a child, change one’s name, maintain custody of children during separation or divorce, these opportunities and others are not possible unless their criminal records are sealed through obtaining a pardon.

In addition, they most likely seek respite from the physiological and psychological impact of the burden that a criminal record causes. Not only do they want to move forward, they also want to gain peace of mind. When confronted with the procedure of undergoing a criminal record check while being considered for a promotion or a new job, while wishing to be able to volunteer for community endeavors, while worrying about friends or neighbours discovering the past: The stress can and does cause physical and psychological trauma. Anyone has the opportunity to have their record checked and should do so for peace of mind.

The RCMP is the only body in Canada with the authority to perform criminal record background checks. Employers are increasingly using criminal record checks, through the RCMP, when qualifying prospective and current employees for new hires and promotions. An otherwise qualified person can expect to be turned down, even if the conviction was for a seemingly insignificant offence that happened long ago. That record exists and can be seen by employers. Even more unsettling is the fact that some companies have started applying their new criminal record policies retroactively. Long-term employees have been dismissed because of a minor, old offence.

Receiving a pardon enables a person to live just as if he had never committed a crime – a pardoned crime will not be disclosed on a criminal record check provided by the RCMP. A clean criminal record is a requirement for moving forward, and applying for a pardon is the route to follow. Obtaining a pardon is a long process, so it’s best to start well in advance. Seeking the assistance of a pardon services specialist will make that process easier and provide the assurance needed.
Don’t Let Your Past Limit Your Future! Let today be the first day towards that new future. Speak to someone today http://tinyurl.com/3dwtdss
A problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it. - Steinbeck - good night from PSC
13% of Canadians have a criminal record. If you need or want a Pardon - we can help. Call us at 1-8-NOW-PARDON.