Answers To Frequently Asked Questions About The US Waiver Process

Obtaining a US entry waiver is a long process that can be very confusing. Legal issues that take time to resolve must be dealt with on both sides of the border before a waiver can be issued. There are several common questions that Canadian citizens might have about the process that is involved in applying for a waiver.

What Documents Are Needed To Apply For The Waiver?

The exact documents that are required can vary depending on personal factors. The applicant will always need some form of official identification like a passport or a birth certificate. If the applicant was convicted of crimes in countries other than Canada or the United States, then criminal records from those countries must be submitted as well. Additionally, official Canadian court records for the crimes that were committed must be included. Finally, there are a few written declarations that might be necessary including a description of the crimes that were committed and the reason for traveling to the United States.

How Long Does The Process Take?

Part of the process involves obtaining criminal court records from various sources including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Ottawa. Applications must then be reviewed by the United States Customs and Border Protection agency. This normally means the application process will take a minimum of nine months. Factors such as exceptionally complex or incomplete applications as well as the backlog at different agencies in both countries could mean that the process will take as long as two years.

Does The Waiver Expire?

A US waiver is not permanent and does expire. The waiver can be granted for periods of one year, two years or five years. All first time applicants and individuals who have performed certain types of criminal offenses are only issued one year waivers. The actual length of the waiver is determined by officials who will look at the type of crimes that have been committed and the length of time that has transpired since the last incident.

Is There A Chance That The Waiver Will Be Denied?

There is a chance that any US waiver will be denied. One of the more common grounds for denial is participation in organized drug trafficking. The type, volume and scope of previous convictions are all considered when making the decision to approve an application. A person who is judged to have a very high likelihood of committing another crime while in Canada or the United States will have a very low chance of approval without other mitigating factors. It is possible to wait a few years between applications if one is denied. Maintaining a clean criminal record for a certain period of time will increase the chances for approval.

Do I Still Need A Waiver If I Have A Pardon?

If a person has received a Canadian pardon for a crime, then they do still need to acquire a US waiver in order to cross into the United States. Border agents will be able to view convictions when checking individual information at the border. Details are not always shown. This means that it is necessary to acquire a US entry waiver even if a Canadian pardon has been issues.

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US Waiver Application Process for Canadians

The United States has strict rules about who may or may not enter from other countries. One of the most common barriers to entry is a criminal record of any sort. If you have a criminal record, in general you may not cross the US border. However, since Canada participates in the visa waiver program, you may be able to get a waiver to allow you to temporarily enter the United States from Canada if you are a Canadian citizen.

Obtain and Fill Out Form I-192
Form I-192 is the application for advanced permission to enter the United States as a non-immigrant. You can obtain this application from the US Department of Homeland Security.

The application requires you to provide your personal information–your name, address and other contact information–as well as an explanation of why you are not eligible to enter the United States as an immigrant and what you intend to do while in the United States. After filling this application out completely, you must sign and date it.

Obtain Verification of Your Criminal Record
Contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to get verification of your criminal record. If you don’t have a criminal record, the RCMP will provide you with a verification that no such record exists. If you are not originally a Canadian citizen, you need to get a criminal record verification or verification that no such record exists from every country you have lived in.

Obtain Copies of Any Court Records
If you have been convicted of any crime anywhere in the world, you need a copy of the official court record listing your indictment, conviction and the disposition of the case.

Obtain and Complete Form G-325
Form G-325 is a biographical information form that you must submit along with your waiver application form. You can get this form from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Fill out the form completely and sign and date it.

Make Copies of Documentation of Your Canadian Citizenship
You must attach copies of documentation that you are a Canadian citizen to your application for a waiver. You will need your Canadian birth certificate or naturalization paperwork.

Write a Statement of Purpose
Write a paragraph explaining the purpose of your visit to the United States. You need to show that you have a legitimate need that cannot be fulfilled if you remain in Canada.

Return the Application to Customs and Border Patrol
You can either mail the application and all the supporting documentation listed above to Customs and Border Patrol or bring it in person. You will have to pay $585 when you submit the application.

Get A Background Check
When you return the application, you’ll have to submit to a criminal background check. You provide your previous addresses on the application and must provide your fingerprints when you turn the application in. If you return the application by mail, you’ll receive notice of where to go to complete your background check.

Wait Up to a Year
It can take up to one year for the US Department of Homeland Security to notify you of its decision regarding your waiver. When you get written notification that your waiver has been approved, you can enter the United States.

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How to Obtain a U.S. Waiver

When you are planning on traveling to the United States for less than 90 days, you will be able to receive a waiver. If you are staying for more than 90 days, then you will need to apply and receive a visa. The benefits of obtaining a waiver is that you do not have to wait for a visa to arrive the mail, and you do not have to pay an application fee for a visa.

To obtain a U.S. waiver, all you will have to do is ensure that you are a citizen of one of the 36 countries that participates in this program. The countries that participate in this program are the United States, Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. There are also additional countries that participate in the program, but these are the ones that are most frequently visited by citizens.

If you are participating in this program, then you will have to validate that the purpose is for tourism or business. People who work for the media will need to obtain a special visa when they travel abroad to these countries for less than 90 days.

It is also important that you still carry your proper identification with you through the airport. It is important to have your driver’s license, birth certificate and a passport when you are traveling to other countries. You should take care not to travel with any substances or items that could be considered to be weapons by the flight security officials. These officials may pull you into questioning, and you could miss your flight as a result of being questioned. You will make your life easier if you decide to err on the side of caution in planning the items to take on your flight.

If you are traveling to the United States for less than 90 days, you may also be required to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during the stay. It is rare for officials to request this type of proof, but you should have bank statements on hand in the event that you are questioned by these officials. They will want to see that you will also have lodging arrangements for your stay in the United States.

A lawyer can also explain the US waiver program in more depth to you. If you are a member of the media or education industry, then you may need to obtain a work permit for your stay in the United States. A lawyer can also help you obtain a visa if you decide that you want to stay in the United States for longer than the US waiver program will allow. It is a smart idea to meet with a lawyer before your visit to the United States so that he or she can help you prepare for your stay. The lawyer will be able to help you fill out the paperwork for a visa. That way, your visa application may be accepted during your stay in the United States. You can then have immediate access to your visa.

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