US Entry Waiver – Why Do I Need One?

Reasons Why Canadians Require a US Entry Waiver

Most Canadians live a short drive from the USA, infact 75% of all Canadians live within 100km of the United States border.  The USA is by far the most popular vacation destination for residents of Canada, and as our largest trading partner it is also the #1 place that Canadian businessmen and businesswomen travel for work.  If you have a criminal record however, you may not be able to go from Canada to the USA without special permission.  This special permission comes in the form of a US Entry Waiver which is obtained by applying to the US Department of Homeland Security.  In order to be granted a US Waiver, a resident of Canada must convince the US government that they have been rehabilitated and no longer pose a threat to American society.

US Entry Waiver

Criminally Inadmissible to USA

Canadians are criminally inadmissible to the United States of America (USA) if they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime that involves moral turpitude or is an indictable offense.  It does not matter if the incident happened 2 months ago or 20 years ago, there is no time limit and now that the US border has access to the Canadian RCMP criminal database even a Canadian record suspension (previously called a pardon) does not enable you to successfully cross the border.  The only way to travel to the United States when you are ineligible due to criminal history is with a valid USA Entry Waiver!   The application process for US Waiver is extremely complex, and most people hire a US Immigraiton Lawyer to help them with the confusing task.

Moral Turpitude

Crimes that involve moral turpitude are those crimes where conduct is vile, depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties to society in general. This may include such crimes as sexual assault, aggravated assault, assault with intent to cause bodily injury, assault using a weapon, assault that causes bodily harm or intends to cause bodily harm, writing bad checks, with a fraud element, burglary, theft, prostitution, child abuse, endangerment, actual injury, and trespassing with the intent to commit a crime.

Some offenses such as failing to appear in court, causing a disturbance, impaired driving, and common assault, are not typically considered when determining inadmissibility as they are not considered crimes that involve moral turpitude, even an impaired driving conviction that causes injury or death may not make a person inadmissible as long as there is no evidence that shows there was an intent to cause death or injury. In addition, multiple convictions of crimes that are not considered to be crimes that involve moral turpitude will not typically cause you to not be allowed into the United States.

Indictments and Summary Convictions

When it comes to convictions a person may either be tried summarily or through indictment. There are some convictions that are always summary, such as causing a disturbance, and these are typically considered a minor offense. Other types of convictions are always indictable such as breaking and entering a home, theft, and drug trafficking and these are considered to be more serious crimes. There are some offenses that may be tried either way, depending on the circumstance. These are called hybrid offenses.

Typically a hybrid offense will be treated as indictable, unless it is elected to be treated as a summary offense. Some of the hybrid offenses include convictions such as mischief, theft under, and assault. Each case will vary, which will leave some people inadmissible to the United States because the court proceeded with an indictment and others will be admissible because they were tried summarily, even if the individuals end up with the same conviction. You will need to refer to the court document for your case to determine whether it was indictable or summary.

There are some exemptions to this rule. A person that only has one CIMT may not need a waiver to enter the U.S.  If the maximum potential sentence for the crime does not go over a year and you were not sentenced to over 6 months. It does not really matter what sentence you actually received, but rather what the maximum potential sentence for the particular offense.

Sexual assault, assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, and uttering a threat to cause serious injuries or death, are all convictions that carry a maximum sentence of 18 months. This means that even if you did not receive jail time or if your jail time was less than a year, or if you were tried summarily, you are still going to need to apply for a waiver in order to be allowed into the United States.

It is important to note that the exemption rule does not apply to many summary offenses as they tend to carry a higher penalty than some of the other summary offenses. The majority of summary offenses typically have a maximum penalty of 6 months jail time.

There are several additional application requirements that will need to be met for individuals who are not allowed into the country because of a physical or mental disorder, Class A tuberculosis, HIV, or Associated Harmful Behavior. The application for this particular waiver is outlined further below.

The civil surgeon for vaccinations may provide a blanket waiver for the required vaccinations that are not medically appropriate at the time the examination was performed. An applicant who has a moral or religious objection to all vaccinations will need to provide proof of this and then fill out the waiver application. There are few exceptions to the vaccination requirements, so you will need to find the appropriate application forms in order to have the vaccination requirements waived.

The petition of an applicant may be approved if they are the parent, spouse, unmarried child, or minor of a legal permanent resident or citizen of the United States or of an alien who has an immigrant visa issued to them or if they are the fiancé or child of a fiancé of a citizen of the states or if they are a self-petitioner for VAWA. These things may help a waiver get approved, but are not guaranteed. No one is guaranteed entry into the country, which is why it is important to discuss your options with a border patrol agent or a legal representative.

The applicant cannot be found to be a threat to the security of the United States. Applicants who are not allowed into the United States because they have been a part of alien smuggling may apply for a waiver only if they have induced, encouraged, abetted, assisted, or helped a person who during the time the action occurred was their parent, son, daughter, or spouse, and no other person, enter the United States in violation of the laws. In addition, the applicant has to be a legal permanent resident of the country who temporarily went abroad and was not ordered removed from the country and the person must otherwise be admissible to the United States either as a returning resident. They may also seek admission or the adjustment of their status as an immediate relative, a preference immigrant or as the fiancé of a citizen of the U.S.

If you are inadmissible to the United States due to your criminal past, the only way a resident of Canada can enter the US is with a valid US Entry Waiver!