Lift an entry ban from the United States (commonly referred to as Waiver): the difference with the pardon application, how and why to obtain it


Some people confuse the pardon application with the demand to lift and entry ban from the United States. The distinction is quite simple: the first is only valid for Canada and the second is a visa which allows entry into the United States for a specific period.

In addition, obtaining pardon does not automatically allow you entry into the United States. Indeed, when someone is convicted of a criminal act, that person can be denied entry into the United States at any times and at the customs officer’s discretion. These officers have access to a system that is connected to Canada’s own system, which allows them to see the criminal record of an individual. Once a customs officer has done all needed verification using that system, the criminal record will still show, even if a pardon has been obtained subsequently.

It is significant to question yourself adequately before deciding to enter the United States or not when you have a criminal record. As matter of fact, a customs officer can deny you access to the American territory while you are visiting the United States and the only way to go back there one day is the obtain a Waiver. In certain cases, a person can have been sentenced to 20 years in the past and have entered the American ground several times without any problem whatsoever.

The process for a Waiver demand generally takes between 6 and 18 months and can be granted for a time duration from 1 to 5 years. Afterward, a person must renew his demand every time the Waiver expires and must do so as long as he plans on going to the United States. It is recommended to begin the renewal procedure 6 months before the expiry of the Waiver.

A person can fill a demand for himself or ask a lawyer to help him fill the demand correctly. To make such a demand (which can be done no matter how much time has passed since the person was sentenced), certain documents are needed, such as: your fingerprints, a reference letter from your employer or a copy of your last income tax return if you are self-employed, copies of identification documents, etc.

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Text originally written in French by Me Julie Paradis / Translated by Virginie Dalpé articling student.