Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2129
How criminal records affect travel to the U.S.A.Region: Ontario Answer # 2129
It is illegal to attempt to enter the United States if you have a criminal record, unless you have appropriate immigration status or you have advance permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), called an Entry Waiver.
You may have often passed through US Immigration after answering a few standard questions about your citizenship and the purpose of your visit. However, since 9/11, it is becoming more common for US Immigration to ask for some identification for the purpose of conducting an RCMP criminal record search. Once you get caught, the immigration officer will download your criminal record into their computer system and, as a result, your criminal record will be on file with US Immigration and the FBI. You will also be denied entry to the United States.
After having been denied entry to the US to legally enter at some later date, you will require an Entry Waiver. There are a number of documents that will be required, and different types of applications depending on what crime you were charged with, and whether you are a Canadian citizen.
If you have not been caught at the US border, having your criminal record sealed or destroyed in Canada will prevent US Immigration from being able to find the information, as it is deemed never to have existed in Canada. Before visiting the US you should have your criminal record removed.
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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