Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2143
Can a youth record prevent someone from travelling to the USA?Region: Ontario Answer # 2143
A youth criminal record can prevent someone from travelling to the US. If the youth criminal record is in either the RCMP Identification or Investigative data banks, it will appear at the border if the US Immigration officer conducts a CPIC search. When a person attempts to enter the US, the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers have the authority to conduct a search using their National Crime Information Centre (NCIC) system, which accesses CPIC. In such cases, the RCMP’s Investigative and the Identification data banks are accessible to the CBP officers.
If a criminal record exists in one of these data banks, the CBP officer will see it. Even in cases that did not result in a finding of guilt (e.g., cases that were thrown out of court or where the person was found to be innocent) and which are supposed to be restricted, the fact that a criminal record exists will be revealed because the person’s name and date of birth are associated with an RCMP fingerprint number (FPS number). Even if the details of the crime and the outcome are not instantly available, the simple fact that an FPS number exists is sufficient to have the file downloaded into the American data banks and for the person to be turned away at the border.
Once the non-disclosure date has been reached, however, the youth record information will be removed from the RCMP Identification data bank and is no longer accessible to US CBP officers. Provided there is no outstanding order or ongoing investigation that could be found on CPIC, the youth record will no longer be accessible.
Some would argue that youth records do not constitute grounds for inadmissibility to the US and would not prevent them from entering. Practically speaking, CBP officers have the discretion to turn anyone away at the border if they feel the person is a threat to the safety of their country. They will err on the side of safety when they are not sure of the laws. This means that people with youth criminal records could be easily turned away at the border and have their record information downloaded into the US data banks, where it will remain forever. At that point, the person with the youth record would need to apply for a US Entry Waiver to legally enter the US In the end, the individual could be issued either a Waiver document (which needs to be renewed), or an official letter from the US Immigration Department stating that a Waiver is not required (this letter does not expire, but must be shown when travelling to the US).
For more information on how to remove a youth criminal record, refer to How are youth criminal records sealed or destroyed?
For more information on entering the US with a Canadian criminal record, refer to Can someone with a Canadian criminal record legally enter the USA?
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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