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Pardons / Record Suspensions and Nexus (II)

Q: Can the Americans find out about my pardon/ record suspension when I apply for Nexus?

A: Maybe.

You probably know that the United States does not recognize a Canadian pardon but that a pardon should seal your record from view at the border. This is provided that the US didn’t know about your convictions previously. One would assume that the same would hold true in a Nexus application, but the truth is that very little information exists on this topic.

The following 3 questions are the only ones pertaining to criminality that appear on a Nexus application:

  1. Have you ever been convicted of an offence in any country for which you have not received a pardon?
  2. Have you ever been approved by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for rehabilitation because of past criminal activity?
  3. Have you ever been found in violation of customs or immigration laws or other federal import laws?

A person who has a received a pardon can therefore submit this application answering all questions honestly. The issue is that we simply do not know whether a Canadian pardon will come up over the course of further investigations. This problem is compounded by the following statement which also appears on the Nexus application:

  1. For background checks, you may be questioned by an officer about your full criminal history, including arrests and pardons.

Nexus applicants have to go for a sit-down interview in a small room with a Customs officer where they may be interrogated about the possible existence of a pardon. It could be that a pardon or record suspension has completely sealed up all evidence of any former convictions but it is equally possible that the officer is staring at a printout listing every misstep you have ever taken as you sit there lying to them. I, for one, would not be willing to take that risk but perhaps your poker face is better than mine…

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