Whereas the Canadian government has strict rules governing who can apply for a Canadian pardon and when, the same is not true for the US entry waiver.
Any Canadian citizen who has a criminal record can apply for a US entry waiver and the vast majority of the applications we prepare are successful. As long as you aren’t currently facing charges in court – or still serving your sentence – you’re eligible to apply. Keep in mind that some charges will not get you banned from the United States. If you are unsure about this we suggest you call and speak with a counsellor.
Criteria for success
A better way to look at the waiver application process is to think about what makes an application successful, rather than what makes an applicant eligible.
Although the US Department of Homeland Security might have concerns about granting a waiver to someone who has recently been convicted of a serious offence, most Canadians will have their waiver granted even if their charges are fairly recent.
It is not in the US government’s interest to keep law-abiding and responsible Canadians from crossing the border. The people who evaluate waiver applications understand this.
They are however concerned with the following because the waiver application is strictly for travel purposes only:
- That the applicant might re-offend while they’re in the United States.
- That the applicant might violate US immigration law by working illegally.
- That the applicant might be travelling to the United States for a period longer than six months.
What do I do?
You need to assure the American government that you are not a risk. There are many things you can do to facilitate getting this point across in your waiver application. For example:
- Do acknowledge that you made mistakes in the past and that you have taken steps to change.
- Do show what steps you have taken and what results they have led to.
- Prove you have money to spend and strong ties to Canada.
- Show that you learned from your mistakes and you’ve moved on with your life.
- Do not make excuses for your criminal behaviour.
- Do not suggest that past offences were only minor or imply that you pleaded guilty simply because your lawyer told you to.
Ties to Canada
You can show that you’re not planning on living or working illegally in the US by telling the Americans about your life in Canada. Tell them about your job and your family and friends. Tell them things you love about your home country. Tell them about your home and what you do for fun.
Whatever parts of your life you decide to reveal the message you want to send is that you are an upstanding and responsible citizen of Canada – just the kind of person they want to welcome at the border.
There other things you are required to include in your waiver application but they are items that must be included, rather than details you can add to make your application look that much better. These include your criminal record, court documents, immigration forms, etc.
If you are planning to prepare an application on your own take your time and be careful. The result – if successful – will be a waiver document that is valid for 1 – 5 years. But once it expires you need to reapply so you want to submit the best application possible.
If you have any questions please call or send us an email. We would be happy to prepare the best waiver application possible on your behalf.