Canadian Pardons US Waivers: More Tips

Canadian Pardons US Waivers: Tips for Success

Do you regret your past? How can you show that you truly have changed? An important part of any Canadian pardon or US waiver application is the required personal letter of explanation. This is a component of both applications and factors into whether or not your pardon and/or waiver are granted. You are given the opportunity to share your side of the story, explain your mistakes, and express your desire for a fresh start.

What do the Canadian and US governments really want to hear when they’re reviewing your application? You’re a saint, you save babies, you haven’t so much as run a stop sign since your last offence. I kid, somewhat. Bottom line, they want to know you’ve changed. Below are some tips to help you with your letter, because it counts.

Canadian Pardons: What are they looking for?

When you are applying for a Canadian pardon (now record suspension), you are asked to fill out a Measurable Benefit Sustained Rehabilitation Form’. This document requests information on the following:

  • Your offences
  • Positive changes in your life
  • How obtaining a Canadian pardon will help you continue to be a law-abiding

Information to include:

  • A detailed explanation of each conviction on your criminal record (and each non- conviction on your criminal record if it was within the past 5 years). This does not mean that a blanket statement like I was a kid and made mistakes will be sufficient. The Parole Board of Canada wants to hear in your own words the circumstances surrounding each specific offence, ie. who, what, where, when, why, how.
  • Details on how you have improved your life and moved forward in a positive direction since your last conviction. This can be work, career advancement, education, volunteering, relationships, friends, family, no further police involvement, home-ownership, etc.
  • Why you want the Canadian pardon. How will being granted a Canadian pardon help you and impact your life? Why will it ensure that you continue with your rehabilitation into society?
  • Letters of reference, proof of counselling or participation in rehabilitative programs, copies of degrees/diplomas and other supporting paperwork is not required, but can be provided to benefit your application.

US Waivers: What are they looking for?

The letter required for the US waiver is similar to that needed for the Canadian pardon. For the Americans you must also explain your offences (see above), and positive life changes.

Information to include:

  • Reason for wanting to travel to the US. Is it for business, pleasure, to visit family?
  • Your ties to Canada. What will ensure that you do not remain in the US once you have been granted an entry waiver? Family in Canada, community ties and business ownership are some valid reasons.

Are there other things you should include? Absolutely. Start an application for a Canadian pardon or US entry waiver with us and we’ll ensure you have the best letter possible. A letter that will get you the longest waiver, or that pardon you need so that you are able to move forward with your life. Writer’s block? We’re happy to help.

About Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan is Regional Manager for National Pardon Centre Toronto. She is also a contributing writer on our blog.


  • Jeff says:

    I’m curious as to how long applications (old version and new) are taking to be approved once they’ve been assigned to an agent at the Parole Board. Their website says 3 months, but I have heard different people say otherwise. Perhaps you can shed some light on this?

  • Kate Duncan says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Pardon applications (old files) as well as Record Suspension applications (new files) are both taking on average 3 months to be processed once assigned to an agent for review. These timeframes are not guaranteed, and as each application is unique we do see variations in processing times. Applications that the Parole Board are proposing to deny, along with files involving an Indictable (more serious) offence may take longer to be reviewed.


  • Sarah says:


    Can you please advise approximately how long it would take to obtain a US travel waiver?

    How long are these typically good for before you have to renew?


    • Kate Duncan says:

      Hi Sam,

      The average US travel waiver application takes 8 to 12 months on average to obtain. This includes file preparation and US processing time. Waivers are valid from 1 to 5 years before they need to be renewed. We prepare the best application possible on your behalf to increase your chances of being granted a waiver for the full 5 years.

      Take care,


  • Mike says:

    What exactly is a letter of circumstance that the US requires in processing your waiver?

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