Pardons, Record Suspensions and Nexus (I)

Q: Does a person need a pardon/ record suspension in order to qualify for a Nexus pass?

A: Yes.

Nexus is a joint venture between the USA and Canada to expedite cross border travel for people who are unlikely to pose a risk. Both countries perform background checks to ensure that applicants are not inadmissible under their respective immigration laws. Canada is actually much stricter than the United States regarding who is allowed to enter the country. For example, US Customs officers are normally unconcerned by a Canadian traveler who has one impaired driving conviction whereas Canada Border Services agents are required to refuse entry to a US citizen with the same record. A Canadian citizen with one DWI would probably be approved for Nexus by the US authorities, but not by its Canadian counterpart. This person would have to apply for a pardon/ record suspension in order to meet the Canadian criteria for Nexus.

Most convictions will get you barred on both sides. Drug possession is a good example. A Canadian citizen with this type of conviction would have to apply for a pardon to get approval for Nexus on the Canadian side but they would still fail the US criteria. The Canadian government recognizes pardons/ record suspensions but unfortunately the US administration does not. This person would have to get a waiver of inadmissibility before applying for Nexus. Nexus could be refused even with a waiver in place.

Long story short: a pardon or record suspension is always required by the Canadians to grant a Nexus pass but it may not be enough to satisfy the American requirements. If you have any convictions from your past (regardless of whether a pardon has been granted) a Nexus card may be a difficult document to obtain.

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Comments (16)
Tim Michaels / May 15, 2013

Thanks for the simple, no-nonsense information.

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Michael Ashby / May 16, 2013

Our pleasure. And thank you.

Michael

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Alison T. / June 7, 2013

I’m confused. In the second paragraph you indicate that Canada is much stricter than the U.S. In the third paragraph you indicate that the U.S. will not recognize pardons. Could you please clarify?

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Michael Ashby / June 7, 2013

HI Allison,

I’m afraid to say I’m a bit confused about what you’re confused about. But, let me try and explain. Canada is stricter as far as drunk driving in concerned. The Americans are much stricter as far as drugs are concerned. Regardless of which side is stricter on which issue the American government will not recognize a Canadian pardon under any circumstances. I hope that helps. Feel free to ask any other questions you have and I will do my best to answer.

Kind regards,

Michael

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JT / January 14, 2014

My husband and I are considering applying for a nexus card. About 30 plus years ago my husband was convicted of theft under $1k (or $5k – I’m not exactly sure of the exact name of the charge). He stole a box of crackers from a grocery store. He paid a $150.00 fine and was given criminal record. At the time he was a teenager acting on a dare. Since then he’s lived a honest, law abiding, crime free life and has been a upstanding and contributing member of our society. Does he have to apply for a Pardon before applying for a Nexus card for something that was so minor and happened so long ago? We’ve looked into getting a pardon and it’s almost $600.00 and it could take 2 years to obtain. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s seems like a money grab to me. Nexus was designed so individuals who do not pose a risk to travel easily between Canada and the USA. So if you have ANY sort of criminal past your considered a to be a medium/high risk for cross border travel?

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Michael Ashby / January 14, 2014

HI JT,

I am not very familiar with the Nexus program. But the value of not having a criminal record is far outweighed by the cost in my opinion. It does cost a considerable amount to send someone through the criminal justice system so I don’t think it’s too unreasonable that a pardon should be paid for by the offender. That being said I can understand being reluctant if the record s not directly affecting your life.

Going back to the Nexus program I think you will need to obtain the pardon but I am not entirely sure.I do know that a shoplifting charge is considered an admissible offence at the US border.

Kind regards,

Michael

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Darnell / April 13, 2015

Hi
I was twice convicted of impaired driving. The most recent was 22 years ago. I have been free of any offences since that time. Not even a speeding ticket. Am I eligible for a Nexus card?

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Michael Ashby / April 15, 2015

Hi Darnell,

I am not super familiar with the Nexus card but I am fairly confident that you will need to obtain a pardon first. If you would like to discuss feel free to give me a call.

Kind regards,

Michael
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Jayme / July 6, 2017

I have heard of a Canadian resident being denied entry to the US after receiving a pardon for a DUI in Canada. The reason provided by the US was that they can only see that there was a criminal record and not the nature of the record. Is there a way to avoid this seemingly catch 22 situation in applying for a NEXUS? If you don’t get a pardon for a DUI, Canada won’t approve but if you do get a pardon, the US won’t approve and you may be barred for life because they can’t see it’s an admissible offence.

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Andre / March 23, 2018

Hi,

I received a record suspension for a DUI charge a couple years ago that was handled by your organization. Thanks for the help!

I recently applied for Nexus, and I am a dual citizen.

Do you know whether the fact I am a dual citizen is likely to be material to my application? In other words, if they would have normally denied my app, is it possible they may actually approve it due to the fact I hold both US and Canadian citizenship and therefore cannot be denied entry to either country?

Thanks! Hope this question isn’t too convoluted…

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Tiffanie / March 23, 2018

Hello Andre,

As we are not familiar enough with the Nexus procedures, we are unable to answer your question.

Please refer yourself to the Department of Homeland Security or to US Customs.

Regards,
Tiffanie
1-866-242-2411, ext. 226

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Ron / July 5, 2018

Ive had a pardon for over twenty years and have gone down to the USA with no issues but I’m now applying for a nexus card and I’m worried i wont get it and be barred from the states. My pardon was for petty stuff when in was 17 and I’m now 62

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Michael Ashby / July 9, 2018

Hi Ron,

My advice is to forget the Nexus. give me a call if you would like to discuss.

Michael
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Laura / September 27, 2019

I recently received a pardon/record suspension from a DUI i got in 1996. I have a trip booked to the USA in November and plan on taking my record suspension papers with me to show what the offence was for to avoid and issues.

My question…. I want a nexus card but won’t apply until after my trip. Have you heard of an application for a nexus card being denied due to a dui being pardoned/record suspension? I don’t want to rock the boat since I’ve never had any issues travelling to the USA.

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Michael Ashby / October 1, 2019

Hi Laura,

The Americans don’t seem to have any trouble with a DUI. However a Nexus app is something I’m not terribly familiar with so I’m reluctant to give you the go ahead. I’m fairly confident it is ok but I don’t have much experience with NExus.

Kind regards,
Michael

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Tony R. / December 25, 2019

Hi Laura, you might be back from your vacation is US. Have you applied for Nexus yet? I am in similar position. due to DUI Canadian side sent me a letter asking my Nexus card back & suspended it. They told me that i can be eligible again in 10yrs. I also got letter from US side, saying that my Nexus was cancelled due to DUI, but i am more than welcome to visit US. I had made several air / road trips to US. I had told the US officer about DUI – when asked. No problems. I have applied for Nexus after i got pardon – its not 10yr yet since my DUI – its 8yrs. I am quite hopefull of getting it after i spoke to Officer @ US Nexus office.

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