The United States and Canada cooperate closely on many affairs – and that includes movement over their shared border. Whether you want to visit the United States and you have a Canadian Criminal Record, or you want to visit Canada, but you’ve been charged with crimes in the USA, you may need a waiver. 

In this article, we’re going to give you an overview of both US Entry Waivers and Canadian Entry Waivers. This overview will include a description of what waivers are and when you need them. From there, we’ll dive into some of the specifics of both types of waivers. We’ll finish with a summary of the information we covered by offering a direct comparison between the two types of waivers.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started. 

What is a waiver?

Entry waivers are, in essence, permission slips. They give the holder advanced permission to enter a country. 

Typically, Canadians and Americans don’t require advanced permission for simple activities like tourism. The two countries have deep ties, and visas aren’t usually required for short, tourism-related stays.

This changes, however, if a person who wants to travel between the two countries has a criminal record in either country. In these circumstances, an individual may be refused entry at the border of the country they’re not a citizen of.

That’s where waivers come in. By gaining advanced permission to enter the country, a person with a waiver increases their chances of being able to visit the country without being denied access at the border. 

What is the difference between a waiver and a pardon?

If you have a bit of knowledge about pardons, you might be wondering why people with criminal records don’t simply obtain pardons instead of waivers. Let us explain:

A pardon is a method of sealing (not expunging) a criminal record. When a pardon is obtained, most security checks won’t be able to find a pardoned criminal record (aside from, in Canada, with some vulnerable sector checks).

In some circumstances, a pardon may be sufficient to seal criminal records and allow you entry to the United States or Canada. However, if that country is already aware of a past criminal record and they haven’t pardoned you for it, you may still be barred from entering.

By obtaining a waiver, you gain advanced permission to enter a country even if they may have a criminal record for which you have not been pardoned in that country on file. Obtaining a waiver can be much easier than obtaining a pardon in a foreign country. 

How do you obtain a US Entry Waiver?

There are several requirements to obtain a US Entry Waiver. While we can’t list them all here (visit the USCIS website for more information), we can give you some of the requirements. 

To apply for a US Entry Waiver, you’ll need:

  • A letter from your employer stating your occupation and length of employment. If you need to travel to the USA for work, your employer will need to explain why. 
  • If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to provide a copy of your latest tax return.
  • You’ll need 3 letters of reference from members of the community (not relatives)
  • A copy of two pieces of photo I.D. – including your passport. These pieces of ID should display your address.
  • A copy of a criminal record check (and fingerprints to obtain it). 
  • The cost to apply is $585 USD. 

Note that there’s no guarantee of being granted a waiver even if you apply – entry is at the sole discretion of the U.S. Government. 

How do you obtain a Canadian Entry Waiver (TRP)?

A temporary resident permit (TRP) can grant you entry to Canada if you would otherwise be inadmissible – this includes access if you would be inadmissible because you have a criminal record. A TRP only lasts for a single trip. 

The Government of Canada has created a guide to temporary resident permits for people who would otherwise be denied entry to Canada. Normally, there is a fee of $200 to apply for a TRP. People who may be denied entry due to minor crimes (such as minor public mischief), however, may have the fee waived.

Applying for a TRP is complex. To do so, you must be granted special permission to apply for a TRP. You must apply for rehabilitation and check the “For Information Only” box. From there, an officer will inform you of whether or not you can apply for a TRP.

What is applying for rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation differs from a TRP in that once you are deemed rehabilitated, you don’t need to re-apply for rehabilitation unless you are convicted of another crime which could bar you from entering Canada after having been deemed rehabilitated.

You can think of rehabilitation as a pardon for criminal offences committed in a foreign country. For offences committed within Canada, you need to obtain a pardon (record suspension) in Canada.

As rehabilitation is a more permanent solution than entry visas, we aren’t covering them in great detail here.

The differences between US Entry Waivers and Canadian Entry Waivers at a glance

Name of waiverTemporary resident permit (TRP)U.S. Entry Waiver (I-192)
Fees$200 ($0 if deemed eligible)$585
DurationThe length of the trip (1 day to 3 years)6 months to 5 years

Both waivers have some commonalities. For example, you’ll need fingerprinting for travel to either country with an entry waiver – these fingerprints are required to obtain your criminal record. You’ll also need to pay any associated fees.

Contact FASTCHECK for help with US Entry Waivers

At FASTCHECK, we provide fingerprint services for obtaining US Entry Waivers. Our fingerprinting service usually takes 10 minutes or less for precise, digitally recorded fingerprints.

Want to travel to the States? Call FASTCHECK today!