One of the great pleasures of the world is travel. It’s often both a fun experience, and an educational one that exposes people to new ways of thinking, new sights, sounds and food. In some cases, travel can be essential for work purposes. If you have an employer that sends you abroad, or you are professional that needs to go to another location for career purposes, such as professional development and networking, like the various conferences held throughout the world. In other words, for both personal and professional reasons, travel can be a very good thing.
But to travel with a Canadian criminal record can complicate the issue. Crime and subsequent convictions are not something that other countries treat lightly. So if you do have a criminal record, can this interfere with your ability to travel? Let’s take a closer look.
Every Country Is Different
The truth of the matter is that a single article is not going to be able to comprehensively list which countries you can travel to with a Canadian criminal record. The reason for this is because every country has its own individual policy, and that makes for a lot of variation. In some cases, the laws may be very clear on Canadians with a criminal record traveling, but the actual application of the law is inconsistent, which can make for some confusion.
If you are actually planning to travel to another country, and you have a Canadian criminal record, the first thing you should do is look up travel guidelines for that specific country to see what their policies are, and then make a judgment based on what your own situation is. Here are a few examples of how the travel restrictions can differ for some popular destination areas.
The United States of America
In theory, the USA is a country you cannot travel to with a Canadian criminal record. In reality, this happens quite often, though the risks are higher these days than they were 20 years ago. USA travel law has a straight forward policy. If you have a criminal conviction, then the customs and border patrol has every right to refuse you entry into the USA.
However, the border patrol only exercises this right if they actually decide to do a criminal background check. That background check is not something that happens for every single Canadian wishing to enter the US either by air, or at the border by car. This means that there are some Canadians with criminal records who have been freely entering and leaving the USA for decades, right up until even now.
They’ve had no issues at all, simply because they’ve never been subject to a criminal background check at either the airport or border. However, if that check should be conducted, and a conviction is found. Entry privileges can be forever revoked, unless a US entry waiver is secured to present to the Americans the next time entry is sought.
A US Entry Waiver is a complicated application and can take some time to obtain. It is also called an I-192 or I-194 form. Once you are denied entry to the US due to having a criminal record, the US border person will likely fingerprint you and give you papers that will begin the US Waiver application process. You may choose to hire a lawyer to help you complete the application but this can be very costly. At Pardons Canada we have been helping people to obtain US Entry Waivers for over twenty five years and we know exactly what the Americans are looking for in order to approve the application.
Once a US Entry Waiver is approved, it will be good for one to five years. During that timefram you will be safe to travel back and forth as many times as you wish. Once the US Waiver is expired, you will need to renew the application.
The United Kingdom
Traveling to England or Ireland is a bit more complex if you have a criminal record. On the one hand, the United Kingdom has a concept known as “spent,” which means that they believe rehabilitation is possible. If enough time has elapsed, they consider a person with a criminal record but without further incident to have been “spent” or rehabilitated, and therefore entry into the UK even with a Canadian criminal record, is feasible.
On the other hand, there are different amounts of time for what is considered spent, and this is entirely dependent on the nature of the conviction. You will need to look up your specific conviction and see how that aligns with UK travel policy to see whether your criminal record is now considered spent or not.
The European Union
In general, travel throughout Europe is very easy, especially if your trip is less than 90 days. A trip of 90 days or less does not require a Visa application, and entry into one country is valid for most of the countries in the union. This means that the majority of Europe is a series of countries you can travel to with a Canadian criminal record, provided your trip is short.
Longer trips will require a Visa, which means you will be asked whether or not you have a criminal record. In these cases, your situation will change, and you may experience more complications, especially if you decide to lie on the application about your record.
Don’t Take Chances
If you don’t want to experience any travel difficulties, the best way to achieve this is to get a record suspension, or pardon, if you have a Canadian criminal record. We can help to explain and guide through this process. Contact us for more details if you’re interested.