We receive about one hundred emails and calls each week from people who have been denied entry to the US due to having a criminal record. That individual could have crossed the border 100 times in the past but the Americans do random criminal checks and they finally got stopped and denied entry. The Americans random criminal checks are becoming a lot more frequent and more and more people are getting denied entry each day.
If you have never been denied entry to the US in the past, then its important to obtain a pardon or record suspension or file destruction in order to remove your criminal record for good. Once your pardon or record suspension or file destruction is obtained you should be safe to travel to the US without being denied entry as the Americans should not see the offence when they do the random criminal check at the border.
Its true the Americans do not recognize pardons, but that only matters if they have already stopped you and denied you entry. If that is the case, they will not care that you have a pardon since you are already downloaded into their system.
If you have been fingerprinted by the police but the charges were withdrawn, stayed, dismissed, peace bond, absolute discharged or conditional discharged, you still must ensure the fingerprints are removed as the Americans can deny you entry even if you have a non-conviction. The Americans do not understand the Canadian terms of discharge or stayed so they automatically assume the worst and can deny you entry.
If you have been denied entry to the US, then a pardon won’t really help you. You must then obtain a US Entry Waiver, I-192 in order to return to the US. This application is costly, complicated and time consuming and you would need it for the rest of your life.
You will not be able to obtain a NEXUS card if you have been denied entry to the US. Depending on the offence, once your pardon is granted you may be safe to obtain a NEXUS card. Its important to not apply for Nexus if you currently have any past police interaction and especially if you have been fingerprinted by the police.
Here is a common concern from a person we recently helped to obtain a pardon:
“Now that we have received the pardon we have a few questions. Apparently, we could be at a border crossing and they could still refuse to allow Rob to cross? I/we were under the impression that the charges would not be accessible and we would have no trouble traveling. ”
“After speaking with the RCMP Rob’s record is clean and they have locked the charges so they are not publicly accessible. However, they were not able to explain whether it would be safe to travel outside Canada.”
“We did this in the beginning, to protect both our families as well as our two daughters. We are worried that if we are traveling with others and we get denied access it would raise a lot of questions not to mention embarrassment.”
Our reply to this person is that they are now safe to travel to the US without the worry of being denied entry.
Regardless of your situation, its best to speak to a counsellor at Pardons Canada who can help with your situation and ensure you have a safe passage to the US.