The average US citizen has seen some sweeping changes in the last few months. Ever since Donald Trump became the 45th president of the USA, he has attempted to make vast changes to the visa and visitation policies that the Customs and Border Protection unit (CBP) are now empowered to enforce. Even though Canadian passport holders are not on the list of prohibited countries’ citizens that have been instantly barred from entry into the United States of America, the CBP have made it sufficiently clear that they are now more assertive and proactive with their background checks.
These more aggressive checks are not going to affect most Canadian passport holders, except that it may take longer to get through the USA/Canada border queues. However, for other Canadians, who have transgressed the Canadian law, it may mean that they can no longer enter the US, as John McAdams, of Hamilton, Ontario found out in January of this year.
The Madness of Juvenescence
When McAdams was 18 years old (in 1965), he was living by himself in a fully furnished rented apartment. When he gave notice, and moved out, his friends helped him move and accidently tooka couple of framed pictures that did not belong to him. Needless to say, the landlord did not tolerate the theft, even though it was accidental, and he called the police. Consequently, John McAdams fell afoul of the law, and he was charged with theft.
Fast forward more than 50 years! There were no local after-effects of the fact that he was convicted of petty theft, so McAdams went on to live a productive, successful life. Furthermore, he bought a retirement home in Florida, USA, so he could mitigate the long cold Canadian winters by enjoying the warm Florida weather.
Finally, on 22 January 2017, McAdams was stopped by the CBP in Detroit, while he was driving across the border to catch his flight to Florida. After years without reverberations, the CBP decided to conduct a background check on him, and he was flagged by the Canadian Central Police Database as having a conviction. Consequently, he was stopped, searched, and prevented from entering the United States. As a result, John McAdams has now sold his retirement home in Florida, and he doesn’t ever plan on entering the USA ever again.
Why Did This Happen?
As empowered by the US government, the CBP has a legal right to stop all visitors to the United States and to conduct a background search. If a visitor has any red flag on this background check, even an ancientsentence for petty theft, the fact that there is a criminal charge can revoke all entry into America. In plain terms, once you have been flagged on the CBP’s computer systems, you may be prohibited from entering America ever again. It does not matter whether you have friends, family, or business in the USA.
There is one caveat, however. If you have a criminal conviction, but qualify for a Record Suspension in Canada and have successfully applied for this Record Suspension, your criminal conviction will not show up in the CBP’s background check. Nevertheless, if you don’t successfully apply for the Record Suspension, and the CBP’s background check flags your name, this information will remain permanently in the CBP’s record system, even if your next Record Suspension attempt removes your criminal record from the Canadian system.
On the other hand, you may get lucky and be able to enter the USA without another CBP guard checking your background; however, if they do check, you will now knowingly be in violation of the current immigration law, and your treatment by the CBP will be much harsher and more embarrassing because you knowingly attempted to enter the US with a criminal record.
Finally, it is a fact that entire buses full of people have been denied entry to the USA because one person in the bus had a criminal record.
There are Still Options
Even though John McAdams decided to abandon his dream of spending the winter months in Florida, USA, his barrier to entry wasn’t permanent. He could have applied for a US Entry Waiver. In a nutshell, this is a particular document that can be presented to the CBP that will allow a Canadian to enter America even with the presence of a conviction in their computer records.
The application process takes time, and you will have to pay administrative costs; however, it is possible to re-enter the United States even with CBP database permanently flagging your name. The good news is that Pardons Canada knows what to do and how to apply for the US Entry Waiver. We can help should you need to enter America on a regular basis, but have background check problems that make it difficult for you to travel across the border.