Many people who get a conditional or absolute discharge believe that their criminal charge will disappear on its own. For the purposes of traveling to the US this is NOT correct. The Americans will still see the fact that you have been fingerprinted and they do not acknowledge the difference between a regular conviction and a conditional or absolute discharge.
If you are stopped at the US Border because of your criminal record you may require a I-192 or US Entry Waiver to return to the US. If you have not already been stopped at the US Border you may NOT need an I-192 or US Entry Waiver as long as you have completed a file destruction or Canada Pardon.
Here is a “real life” example of a person who was recently stopped at the US Border because of a conditional discharge:
“I was charged with possession of hashish at Canada customs back around 1988 and was summarily convicted and given a conditional discharge (two years probation)in 1989.”
“I had my file purged in 2003 and had been traveling to the US many times since then. I have held various work visa’s there: L1-B, TN and H1-B. I lived in California from Jan 2004 until May 2008 and traveling had never been a problem. ”
“I moved back to Canada in May 2008. ”
“I then went to cross at the border in Detroit around June 2009 (to import my vehicle) and was given a very hard time at US customs.”
“I was asked if I had ever been arrested to which I answered ‘no’. ”
“This was followed up with further questioning and threats saying that if I was lying to them I could be banned for many years and such. I was asked again and i still said ‘no’. Then the custom’s officer started questioning me as to whether I’d ever been pardoned. To which I basically came clean about things. ”
“Long story short they were able to tell me exactly what I had been charged with and how much I had with me. I went on to tell them that I had never had a criminal record and that I’d been given the condition discharge and then had my files purged or so I thought.”
“Well they finally agreed to let me finish my business and import my vehicle and then told me that I needed to contact the court and get a copy of my record to show for the next time that I crossed. No mention of an ‘entrance waiver’ at this time. ”
“I did not need to travel to the US again for almost another year and did not get it too much thought.”
“But I was traveling again July of this year 2010 so I went ahead and got a copy of my record from the RCMP figuring that would be enough to satisfy – the fact the I have no criminal record – WRONG!!! ”
“This is when I found out the ‘proper process’ that I needed to follow to get an entrance waiver (I-192) and of course was denied entrance at that time.”
If you have any questions regarding this topic or about Pardons and US Entry Waivers email us at [email protected] or call 1-877-929-6011.