US Waivers have been around in one form or another for a long time, ever since the US Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1952. They have gained popularity in the past decade as the USA has tightened its borders since 9/11 and the US Customs has started cracking down on any and all illegal aliens crossing the border into the United States. Canadian pardons have also been around for a long time, ever since Canada passed the Criminal Records Act in 1985. They are soon going to become extinct when the new bill C-23B is passed by the Canadian government and “pardons” become “record suspensions”. Both acts provide a measure of freedom to reformed persons who deserve a pardon for their past deeds.
With the procuring of a pardon/waiver for a criminal record changing drastically and with pardons and US waivers becoming harder to obtain, people may well be forced to choose between the two. Both involve paying high fees to obtain important rights such as travelling cross border to visit family in the US or volunteering at a child’s school. And both may seem like the only answer to some of life’s difficult situations. How likely is it that a person may have to choose one or the other? Or is the choice between the Canadian pardon and the US Entry Waiver simply not an option for some people? This article will examine some of the points of each document to shed some light on the situation.
It used to be possible to obtain a permanent US Entry Waiver. However, that has gone the way of the dodo as the US now only has one year to five year waivers available, with a wait time of up to a year or more each time you apply. The Department of Homeland Security is the one which issues the US waivers, having nothing to with the Canadian government, and they have become very backlogged with the influx of applications for US waivers due to tighter border security. People may well wonder why they would go to the trouble of applying and waiting just for a visit to the States – especially when the fee per application is $585.
Canadian pardons have not changed greatly since their official introduction with the National Parole Board in 1985. It has always been a lengthy process, taking anywhere from a year and a half to two years and change to get all the necessary documentation together and wait for the NPB to process it. It is not greatly expensive, with the cost of doing it oneself averaging $100 to $200. It is very complicated to complete, however, especially without any prior legal or government experience and the rewards are permanent, as pardons do not expire. All that is about to change with bill C-23B – pardons will be renamed “record suspensions” and people who have committed three serious indictable offenses or even more serious crimes will no longer be eligible for a pardon or “record suspension” at all. The emphasis will also be placed more on the applicant to prove they deserve the pardon and the NPB will now have just one person overseeing the pardon process.
So which one seems more appealing and practical – the US Entry Waiver or the Canadian pardon? Both have their uses and are very necessary in today’s society – but in the end, it is probably the individual’s circumstances which will help them decide between applying for one or applying for both.