Decades ago, it used to be quite easy to cross the US / Canadian border. Anybody with a criminal record has always found it difficult though, and these days it can be nearly impossible. In this article, we will examine which criminal records prevent travel to the US.
There are some criminal offences, like impaired driving, which should not legally affect your travel to the U.S. Impaired driving is not grounds for inadmissibility according to U.S. law. The problem, though, is that U.S. immigration officials are not trained as lawyers and can turn away anyone who has a fingerprint number (FPS#) regardless of the outcome of the charges, the amount of time elapsed since the charge or the perceived seriousness of the charge.
It is always best to seal or destroy any criminal record before attempting to cross the border.
If you have been refused entry, you can apply for a U.S. Entry Waiver. If you can show that you have sealed or destroyed your file in Canada and you have been a law-abiding citizen for some time, it will increase your chances of successfully obtaining a U.S. Entry Waiver.
Specific Criminal Records Preventing Travel to the US
The list of criminal acts that will prohibit you from entering the U.S. is always changing. The list is also quite long, and the caveats can be complex. At Pardons Canada, we keep abreast of all the changes in the laws and eligibility for you, and we can aid you in getting the freedom to travel that you deserve.
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude are the specific criminal records that will stop you from crossing the US border. Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States (originating in the 19th century) and is hard to define. It loosely refers to any behavior that is deemed base, vile, or depraved to society in general. This also includes any attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime. Crimes committed when the person was under the age of 18 years are excluded.
Please contact us at Pardons Canada for a full list of other crimes.
Below are examples of specific criminal records that prevent travel to the U.S. and will make you inadmissible to the Unites States. Not all of the criminal records on this list require an actual conviction to make admission impossible. Very often, your fingerprint number is enough regardless of the final outcome of the charge.
- Passing fake/bad cheques
- Assault causing bodily harm
- Child abuse
- Illicit drug trafficking
- Human trafficking
- Money laundering
- Endangerment and actual injury
- Sexual assault
- Convictions for two or more crimes where the sentences were at least five years
- A controlled substance violation of any country
Note: Never attempt to enter the U.S. if you have been previously deported without a proper visa. This is a serious felony under U.S. law and can result in jail time.
Refused Admittance to the U.S. Based on Your Criminal Record?
If you have been refused entry to the U.S. one time because of a criminal record, it is wise to contact Pardons Canada before trying again. If you are caught a second time, the consequences may be much more severe. American immigration officers are permitted to:
- Seize the vehicle you are traveling in (regardless of ownership)
- Remove you from a bus or train and send you back to Canada
- Seize your airplane ticket and stamp it VOID. You will be unable to collect cancellation insurance
- Detain and handcuff you if you are stopped a second or third time
Is Crossing the U.S. Border Becoming More Difficult?
Since the fateful tragedy of September 11, 2001, the subsequent War on Terror and the rise of populism, border regulations have been getting stricter all over the world. Government and law enforcement agencies are now sharing information in an unprecedented manner, and border officials have access to a plethora of your personal information.
Typing your name into their computer terminal will tell them everything they need to know and perhaps some things they shouldn’t know. If you are in any doubt as to your legal standing regarding crossing into the States, contact Pardons Canada today.