Were you convicted of a minor criminal offense many years ago? If so, you may be inadmissible to the U.S.
Prior Convictions—Options and Relief
The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) contains several criminal-related provisions related to admission to the U.S. Specifically, one provision of the INA renders foreign nationals inadmissible if they are convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”), regardless of the date of conviction. A CIMT generally refers to conduct that is contrary to the accepted rules of society. In addition, a foreign national is inadmissible to the U.S. if he attempts, conspires or violates any controlled-substance law of the U.S. or any foreign country. The most common CIMTs for Canadians are possession of marijuana, possession of stolen property, fraud and theft over $1,000. If a Canadian has been convicted of a CIMT, he must obtain a nonimmigrant waiver from Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”). Such waivers must be applied for in advance of entry to the U.S. Unlike those from the Canadian immigration system, U.S. waivers generally take 6-8 months to obtain.
Canadian Pardons Are Not Recognized by the U.S. Government
In addition, the U.S. government does not recognize foreign pardons. Even though a foreign national’s criminal record is sealed and pardoned in Canada, it’s accessible at any port of entry as the CBP database contains information regarding foreign criminal convictions. The database is generally checked when a foreign national attempts admission. If a foreign national’s conviction record is located by CBP, he will need to obtain a nonimmigrant waiver to enter the U.S.
Our office handles dozens of nonimmigrant waiver applications each year. If you’ve been advised to obtain a nonimmigrant waiver or suspect your old conviction may render you inadmissible to the U.S., please contact Berardi Immigration Law immediately.
Page Summary: In certain circumstances, a criminal waiver may be obtained allowing for admission to the U.S.