Fly Direct – Inadmissibility to the United States Means You Need a US Waiver Even For a Layover

It is no secret that many travel destinations involve a brief stopover in the United States. Most locations in South America, many in the Caribbean, plenty in Europe and just about any location in the world that is not within Canada will have a very good chance of a layover in the United States. This is a serious problem for anyone who has been deemed inadmissible to the United States of America.

Clearing American Customs Means you are Entering the Country

When you are flying to, or through, the United States from Canada you will clear customs BEFORE you ever get on the plane. American customs will determine your admissibility status prior to you arriving at your gate. Therefore if you are inadmissible to the country for any reason you will not be permitted anywhere near the airplane unless you have the proper documentation.

Get a US Entry Waiver

The solution to inadmissibility is to get a US entry waiver.

It may seem unfair but American law requires you to process a US entry waiver even if you have no intention of setting foot on American soil. Many of our clients complain that they have no intention of ever getting off the airplane since they only want to fly through to whatever final destination they have. But this is not an argument that will go over well at American customs.


Let’s be clear on one point. If you are trying to clear American customs even though you are – knowingly – inadmissible you are breaking the law and this may very well land you in a lot of trouble.

You can, and most likely will, de detained if caught by an American customs agent. If you repeatedly try to cross you may be arrested and your possessions may be confiscated. So you will want to make sure you have everything in order prior to getting anywhere near a customs agent.


There are really only two viable ways to avoid these consequences. You will either find a flight that does not stop on American soil or you will process a US waiver.

Both options may have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example a US waiver will undoubtedly seem like an unnecessary expense to those who have no intention of spending any time in the country. On the other hand finding another flight that does not go through American may turn out to be very costly in terms of the extra time and financial investment required.

Get a Waiver for Peace of Mind

Although a waiver may seem like nothing more than an added expense it certainly beats spending time detained at American Customs. And it most definitely beats being arrested. But keep in mind that it takes approximately 1 year to complete a waiver application so if you plan on getting one in order to complete a layover in the United States you will want to get started early.

If you have any questions or you require assistance with processing your waiver application please feel free to get in touch with myself or a counsellor at the National Pardon Centre. We are happy to help.

Michael Ashby

514.842.2411 x 227


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