Everybody Makes Mistakes

Options should you be stopped at the U.S. border.

Here is a brief summary of an article that recently appeared in The Globe and Mail. To read the original article, please follow the link at the bottom of this summary.

What should you do if denied entry because of a criminal conviction, perhaps one that happened decades ago?
Consider this hypothetical experience: Imagine you're at a U.S. Immigration checkpoint, travelling to attend a meeting or convention, close a business transaction, or take trip to Disneyland. A U.S. Immigration officer discovers that you were involved in a “criminal matter” years ago.
If you’re denied entry to the United States, your travel plans may be jeopardized, and it might even have a detrimental effect on your career – travelling south of the border is what many Canadian business people do occasionally as part of their jobs.
If so, here’s a word to the wise: Don’t panic. It’s understandable that you might become nervous in such a situation, appearing suspect to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. It might even be tempting to ramble on in a way that makes an officer suspicious. Others might lose their cool and display a bad attitude. None of these reactions would prove beneficial and could result in refusal of admission.
So if you’re questioned about your prior criminal history, think carefully before answering, and remain calm. Instead, fully disclose all your arrests and convictions, including any “minor indiscretions” that might have happened long ago as a youth or young adult.
U.S. immigration laws outline specific categories of crimes and offences that generally categorize inadmissibility offences. Canadian travellers can find themselves questioned about their inadmissibility for instances in their past involving either drug-related offences (controlled-substance violations) or crimes involving dishonesty (crimes involving moral turpitude). There are exceptions to the rule, though, and recalling as many facts as possible may allow you to make your originally scheduled flight to the United States.
Even in the event that you’re turned away that day, there’s still hope. You may be able to apply for a Non-immigrant Waiver of Inadmissibility to the United States. Or you may have to provide court records demonstrating that the inadmissibility provisions of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act don’t apply in your case.
Even if you are not technically inadmissible to the United States, you may require advance assessment by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Admissibility Review Office to advise of your admissibility in the form of an official letter.
So stay calm, don’t panic, and don’t do anything foolish. Work within the system, and if necessary, work with an expert and chances are you’ll be able to return to the United States without having to worry.
Read the full story Denied entry to the U.S.? Don’t panic. by Tony Wilson as it appeared in the Globe and Mail.

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