Skip to content
Pardon ou Waiver pour aller aux États Unis

Pardon or Waiver? The Difference for Traveling to the United States

Let's distinguish between a Pardon and a Waiver for travel to the United States

In this article, we will explore the fundamental differences between pardon requests (record suspension in Canada) and waiver requests (right of entry to the United States). This distinction is crucial for understanding the legal issues and entry procedures to the United States for people with a judicial past.

What is a Pardon in Canada?

A pardon, officially known as a record suspension, is a process conducted with the Parole Board of Canada. This step aims to remove criminal records from Canadian public registers.

Limitations and International Recognition

Although a pardon erases records from the Canadian system, it is important to note that the U.S. government does not recognize a Canadian pardon. Therefore, even with a pardon, obtaining a U.S. waiver remains necessary to cross the border into the United States.

Crossing U.S. Borders with a Canadian Pardon

It is essential to consider the following aspects regarding the legal and border implications of the Canadian pardon:

Visibility of Your Information After the Pardon

Even after a pardon is granted, some information remains accessible. This includes, but is not limited to, registration in the sex offender registry and firearm possession prohibition orders. Furthermore, data recorded at the Quebec Police Information Centre (CRPQ) are not deleted following a pardon.

Consequence of Questions Asked at Customs

Customs officers are likely to ask specific questions to clarify any ambiguity related to a person's judicial past. These questions may include:

a. Have you ever obtained a Canadian pardon?
b. Have you ever been arrested?

In response to these questions, it is imperative to declare one's judicial past or the obtaining of a pardon accurately. Responding inaccurately can lead to serious consequences.

Providing incorrect information to a customs officer can lead to severe repercussions. These include an absolute ban on entry into U.S. territory for a determined period, detention, thorough interrogation, or seizure of your vehicle.

The American Waiver

The American waiver is required to enter the United States if you have previously been judged inadmissible. This document, the I-192, is essential for those who have been denied access to the United States and allows circumventing restrictions based on judicial records.

Border Controls and Criminal Records

Although you may have crossed the border many times despite your judicial history, it is still possible that you may be denied passage at any time.

Your entry into U.S. territory is never guaranteed in advance. If you have previously been deemed inadmissible by the United States for any reason, it is crucial to obtain special authorization, known as a “US Entry Waiver.”

It is important to note that having a criminal record is not the only reason for denial of entry. Even without a record, if you have previously been arrested or have benefited from absolute or conditional release, border authorities can still deny you access.

The Importance of Form I-192

Form I-192 plays a key role for individuals who have previously encountered obstacles to entry into the United States. This official form, issued by U.S. authorities, is specially designed for those who have been denied access or declared inadmissible to U.S. territory in the past. Its purpose is to facilitate the entry of concerned individuals, whether they come from Canada or other countries.

The importance of form I-192 lies in its ability to lift previous restrictions. In other words, it acts as a sort of "pass" that, once approved, prevents U.S. customs agents from denying entry based on previous refusal reasons. To be effective, this form must be filled out with accurate information tailored to your personal case, thus demonstrating why you should be allowed to enter the United States despite your history.

As you can see, the instructions for applying for permission to enter the United States (form I-192) are very complex. That is why we offer a comprehensive turnkey service to assist you in these steps. Fill out our form at the bottom of this page if you would like to learn more.

Comparison between Pardon and Waiver

Access to the United States with a Pardon

It is crucial to understand that even with a Canadian pardon, U.S. customs officers may ask questions about your judicial past. Lying to these questions can lead to serious consequences, such as being banned from entering U.S. territory.

The Waiver as a Solution

In contrast, an American waiver offers stronger protection for entry into the United States, as it is specifically designed to overcome eligibility problems related to a criminal record.

Scenario and Consequences

With a pardon but without a Waiver: An individual with a Canadian pardon could be questioned by U.S. border agents about their judicial past. Without a Waiver, they risk being denied entry, as the pardon does not change the visibility of the records in the eyes of U.S. authorities.

With a Waiver but without a Pardon: A person holding an American Waiver but without a Canadian pardon has already been evaluated by the U.S. authorities. Even if their criminal record is visible, the Waiver acts as an explicit authorization for entry into the United States.

With a Pardon and a Waiver: This combination offers the best efficiency. The pardon suspends the record in Canada while the Waiver, once approved, allows you entry into the United States.


Precautions and Recommendations

It is essential to fully understand these differences and prepare your travel accordingly. If you have a criminal record and are considering traveling to the United States, it is strongly recommended to consult an expert to evaluate your specific situation and obtain the appropriate documents.

Would you like to know if you are eligible? Contact us using the following form:

en_CAEnglish (Canada)