Crossing the border

I’m often amazed at how many people think honesty is the best policy at the US border. So let’s be clear: it is NOT.

If you admit any illegal activity to a US border guard, particularly activity involving drugs, you will most likely be refused entry, fingerprinted, photographed, turned away. You will then be told you require a US entry waiver in order to gain access to the country.

My advice  is don’t volunteer any information that isn’t required and don’t admit to any past behaviour that associates you with anything remotely illegal. Don’t say you used to run with the wrong crowd. Don’t say you used to shoplift. Don’t say you used to smoke pot. As far as the border guard needs to know you have lived a very boring life without any mistakes, challenges or misdirections in life.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a criminal record. The United States has the right to refuse you entry based on little more than suspicion. Admit to illegal activity and the suspicion is confirmed and you will not be allowed to cross the border without first obtaining the proper documentation.

If you have any questions about crossing the border, US entry waivers, pardons in Canada or anything else relating to criminal records please get in touch.

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Comments (20)
James Phillips / September 24, 2014

Hello Michael, I will get straight to the point. I have 2 dwai”s both misdemeanors. One in 1992 and the other in 2000. I completed an application for criminal rehabilitation. I am a US citizen. My application was well done with many recommendation letters from Canadian and American citizens. I also had to take an alcohol rehab course with a NYS DMV approved psychologist. I myself wrote a long letter stating my volunteer services to my community ,such as coaching little league and can drives for our school,ect. I am a mailman and have been for 16 years. my inlaws have owned property in Canada for over 60 years abd I have been coming to the land for 25 years and one day in 2012 they pulled me and my family over and I was told I could not enter Canada because of my past indiscretions. I was floored when I received my rejection letter. I thought for sure because of the time that had passed and my alcohol classes and clean FBI check ect that I would have no problems. I just don’t know where to turn next . I had planned on retiring up there someday and now it seems al is lost. Should I get an immigration lawyer or is there something else. Any help would be appreciated. Thank You, James Phillips

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Michael Ashby / September 25, 2014

Hi James,

If you give me the ok I can refer you to an immigration consultant I work closely with who can help you. I am a bit confused by this because if you have applied for criminal rehabilitation then that should be the end of the matter. But I will leave that to my colleague. Send me an email to mashby@nationalpardon.org with a brief explanation of what you wrote here and I will forward it off. Then you can decide if whatever solutions are proposed are worth pursuing.

Kind regards,

Michael

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Roy Robinson / September 29, 2014

Hello Michael,

I have a friend from Canada who travelled with me to Honolulu in 2012. He purchased a set of brass knuckles from a swap meet. He was convinced by the man who sold him the item that it would ok to leave the country with it. Unfortunately, when we were leaving he was nabbed by Customs & arrested him for Possession of a Deadly Weapon charge. It was his first offence for he’s got no prior record in our home country of Canada. The bail was set for $100, and it was immediately paid & he was let go. The bail had a condition that he had to make a return to Hawaii for a plee, or do it by mail. So he did it by mail. His bail was eventually sent back to him. The question remains is, what will he have to do in order to cross the Canada-U.S. border? He was contemplating visiting Minnesota. He has no criminal history in Canada. Does he need a pardon from the US? If so, how does one go about acquiring one? If one is arrested in one state, how does this effect his future visits to other states?

Thank you for your time,
Roy Robinson

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Michael Ashby / October 1, 2014

Hi Roy,

He is going to need a US entry waiver. Have him give me a call or he can easily apply online.

We would be happy to help out.

Kind regards,

Michael
514.842.2411 x 227

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Tony / October 8, 2014

Hi Michael! I had to go to court for cheque fraud when I was 19 years old and tried to cross the border at the time and was turned away by the US Custom agents and denied access! I was given a Conditional Discharge and had to do community service! The charge wasn’t immediately removed as it was prior to 1992, so I had to apply to have my record removed! My question is can I still be refused entry into the US? I am planning a trip to Disney Land and Vegas this winter and would hate to get turned around by the US Custom agents after spending so much money to fly my family and myself to the US!

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Michael Ashby / October 8, 2014

Hi Tony,

I am afraid you are very likely to be refused. The border guards would have downloaded the criminal history at the time you were refused and it will remain in their systems. I wouldn’t risk another turn around, especially if you are taking the kids to Disney Land. It’s one of the most common conversations I have at work after the xmas holidays. Very sad.

Best to get your waiver. I am not in the office right now but if you would like to speak to someone try Nicole at ext 221. You can also apply online:

https://www.nationalpardon.org/applyonline/

Any questions just let me know.

Michael

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Tony / October 9, 2014

$1400 to get a waiver that can only be used once!! Nah for that kind of money I can go to Turks & Caicos!

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Michael Ashby / October 15, 2014

HI tony,

A waiver can be used multiple times. Its the length of time that it is valid for that changes. It will be good anywhere from 1 – 5 years. Use it as many times as you like during that period.

Kind regards,

Michael

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Sandy / October 28, 2015

The U.S. Boarder guard told me a waiver was around $600.00 by the way the waiver can be good for 1-5 years. Usually the first one you get will only be good for one year. after that you have to reapply and pay the fee again. There is no guarantee on how long your waivers will be for.

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Michael Ashby / October 28, 2015

Hi Sandy,

The American filing fee is $585 USD. If you would like us to process the paperwork for you it will cost $695. We would handle management of preparation of the application.

You can either apply online for give me a call.

https://nationalpardon.org/apply-online-page-1-eng/

kind regards,

Michael
514.842.2411 x 227

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Jason / December 27, 2014

Hello Michael!

I had been convicted of theft under $5000 back in early 2000’s. Since my convictions I have never travelled to the U.S. I have recently obtained a record suspension and was advised to wait 30-45 days befor travel.
My question is, will US boarders have any information on my priors since CPIC should be erased? Also if asked if I have ever been fingerprinted/ convicted, can I denie it without any worries.
Thank you for taking time to answer!
Jason

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Michael Ashby / December 29, 2014

Hi Jason,

It’s really your choice what to tell the AMericans. I wouldn’t worry. But technically you are breaking the law if you lie. IF you have not previously been denied entry or questioned or deported by us authorities then there should be nothing on file.

best regards,

Michael

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April / January 2, 2015

Hi Michael,
I have been charged with a criminal offence back in 2000 And I am in the process of getting a pardon. I was thinking of making a trip to the US to visit family and I wanted to know would I be able to enter the US before my pardon gets approved? I don’t know when that will be. Please help! Will they know anything if I show up at the border with my family?

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Harry / January 23, 2015

I’m a writer living in Canada, am a Canadian citizen, and speak quite often at writers’ conferences in the US. I have a US social security number after we lived in the US for 12 years, and pay income tax yearly from my American pension. When we cross the border from Canada into the US and inform Customs the purpose of my visit is to attend a writers’ conference, I always tell them that I’m going merely as an attendee rather than as a speaker, because if I say the latter they will pull me over and ask me questions for an hour. Its a lie, but a Rahab’s lie which serves the truth, if you understand the Biblical allusion. If you have a better suggestion for me as to crossing the border, I’d love to hear it.

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Michael Ashby / January 26, 2015

Hi Harry,

I can’t say I do. We really only deal with people who have been outright refused. Sounds like you’re in a weird limbo place where they let you in but they give you a hard time about it. I’ve heard of this many times.

Best luck,

Michael

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Robert Sockett / February 25, 2015

I applied for a Nexus card and when I went for my interview at the U.S. Nexus office I was asked if I had ever been fingerprinted. I told the Nexus agent hat I had a dangerous driving charge when I was 17 and a Mischief charge when I was 26. I received a pardon when i was 40 so I could adopt my son. I gave him my forms showing my pardon and he conditionally approved my Nexus card. The agent asked me to send a transcript of the charges that I had against me by fax to his office. I did this and received an approval of my Nexus card by email. 2 days later my approval was reversed. The agent had said that I should keep a copy of my Pardon and record with me when i go across the border. Do I have to worry about crossing the border now even with a copy of my pardon?

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Michael Ashby / February 25, 2015

Hi Robert,

I am pretty surprised that the application was approved at all. Most likely you will be required to process a US entry waiver. Feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss your case.

Kind regards,

Michael
514.842.2411 x 227

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marc beaudry / March 15, 2016

I have both a pardon and a lifetime US waiver – my question is; am I elligible to apply for a Nexxus card?
the waiver (letter -paper copy) has to get pulled out every other time at us customs – and it usually takes the
guard an extra 10 minutes of being extra stern and serious asking questions for which they have the answer
in their hands or on their computer –
I’m curious to find a faster way through
thanks
marc

Reply
Michael Ashby / March 15, 2016

Hi Marc,

Lifetime waivers are no longer valid. If you are still able to use yours I strongly suggest avoiding the Nexus app and just letting sleeping dogs lie.

Best luck,

Michael

Reply
Michael / June 21, 2017

Hi,

I was charged with theft under 9 years ago and received 6 months probation and last year I was convicted of a DUI and dangerous driving. What are my chances of crossing the border from Canada to the USA?

Reply

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