How to Get Into the United States With a Criminal Record

Updated April 17, 2017

Anyone with a criminal record, even for a minor offence, may be denied admission to the United States. This could result in the loss of a job or medical treatment, or even exclude business travel or educational opportunities. Trying to gain entry when prohibited could lead to confiscation of vehicle, arrest, deportation, fines and incarceration. However, those with criminal records may still be able to get a visa or receive entry into the United States.

Determine whether any prior conviction has led to a denial of entry into the United States. To do so, contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security well in advance of any plans to enter the country. Keep in mind that a pardon may not be recognised outside of the country that granted it and will not guarantee eligibility to enter the United States.

Apply for a waiver of eligibility for any Canadian citizen who has been prohibited from entering the country. Form I-192: Advanced Permission to Enter the United States is available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection and can be downloaded at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Canadian residents may also pick up a form at any U.S. Port of Entry or at a Canadian airport that has a U.S. pre-clearance facility. These include Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal-Trudeau, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Apply for re-entry into the United States if a Canadian citizen who was ever been removed or deported from the United States. Form I-212: Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal is also available at the USCIS website. Be aware that it will take several months for the application to be processed.

Obtain a visa if coming from any country other than Canada. Then apply for a waiver at the U.S Consulate or Embassy. For the interview, bring all records pertaining to the criminal offence.

Declare all past criminal offences at the point of entry into the United States. Failure to do so could result in arrest and a permanent ban from entering the country.

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