Canadian citizens who are barred from entering the United States because of a criminal conviction, a previous immigration problem (such as a deportation order, unlawful presence or fraud), or other reason, may apply for a “waiver” to be able to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor for business or pleasure. This guide is a basic overview of an application for a waiver filed at a U.S. port of entry or CBP pre-clearance.
Forms and Filing Fee
The applicant must submit the Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant, and the Form G-325A, Biographic Information. The filing fee for the Application is $585.00 (U.S. Dollars), and may be paid by cash, credit card, money order, or check made payable to Department of Homeland Security. If you are paying by check or money order, it must be drawn on a U.S. financial institution and payable on U.S. dollars.
Proof of Canadian Citizenship
The applicant must provide proof of Canadian citizenship. Proof is generally provided in the form of a Canadian passport, NEXUS card, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (“WHTI”) compliant document. A Canadian passport is preferred and should be valid for at least six months at the time the waiver application is filed. Canadian permanent residents DO NOT qualify to file a waiver application at a port of entry or airport pre-clearance.
You must provide a copy of your criminal record or evidence that you do not have a criminal history from the RCMP. CBP will only accept a record check from the RCMP, not a local police station. The record check from the RCMP is valid for 15 months. If you do have a criminal history – even if it is only an arrest and you were never convicted – you must provide a copy of the court record from each arrest or conviction. Your criminal history includes arrests and convictions in both Canada and the United States, and in any other country. It includes any arrests or convictions throughout your life, including arrests or convictions that were a long time ago, or happened while you were a youth.
If you are barred from the United States because of a previous immigration problem, you must provide copies of the records from that previous problem, such as a deportation order, a record of sworn statement, old passports, etc. You may need to provide evidence of the exact dates that you resided in or outside of the United States, if you are barred because you lived in the United States illegally. You may need to show that you were previously admitted to the United States using someone else’s passport, if you are barred for a fraud or misrepresentation. You must show evidence that you live outside of the United States now, such as a deed or lease agreement, tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, school records, etc. You must show that you will return to Canada at the end of your authorized stay in the United States.
Your personal statement is the “heart” of your waiver application. It is important to take the time to prepare a detailed statement that explains why you are barred from the United States, whether you have been reformed or rehabilitated, whether you are likely to repeat what you did, what you are doing now, and why you wish to enter the United States. The personal statement often takes the form of an original letter to CBP. Depending on the specific situation, it may be necessary to provide additional documentation to support the application.
Where to Apply?
Waiver applications are filed at designated ports of entry or preflight inspection points. It is important to have all necessary Forms and supporting documents prepared before applying. Incomplete waiver applications with be rejected. At the time you file your application, CBP will take your fingerprints, and may review your application to make sure that you have all the necessary Forms and documentation. The application will be forward to the Admissibility Review Office of CBP, which will process the application and mail you a decision. It will likely take approximately four to six months to receive a decision on your application, so it is important to prepare and file the application well in advance of the time you are planning to come to the United States. A waiver will be approved for a period of up to five years.
If prepared with the proper attention to detail, submitting a waiver through a port of entry or preflight inspection point can be a very smooth process. On the other hand, improperly prepared and inadequately supported waiver applications can lead to denials. For more detailed advice and specific legal guidance, it is best to consult with an immigration attorney that focuses their practice on waiver applications.
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