How Do Record Suspensions (Pardons) Work?
If you have a criminal record, you may have heard about getting record suspensions (pardons) and waivers for work, travel, and other purposes. It is possible to get record suspension (Pardon) services in Canada but it is important to know the difference between the two so that you can apply for the one most suited to your purpose(s).
Canadian Record Suspensions (Pardons)
A record suspension (pardon) is granted by the National Parole Board of Canada. It is a document which states that your criminal convictions have been pardoned and that your Canadian criminal record has been sealed.
A record suspension (pardon) is effective in Canada, but may not be recognized by foreign governments.
The United States can exercise its discretion to refuse you entry or require you to apply for a US waiver despite having obtained a record suspension (pardon).
There are waiting periods for obtaining a record suspension ( pardon). If your conviction was a summary conviction, the waiting period is 3 years from the date your sentence was satisfied – when your jail time was satisfied or your fine was fully paid. If your conviction was indictable, the waiting period is 5 years from the date your sentence was satisfied. If you do not know if your convictions were summary or indictable, you can check with the courthouse in which you were convicted.
The current processing time for obtaining a record suspension (pardon) is approximately 18-24 months from the time your application is submitted. * Under extenuating and extraordinary circumstances, this process may be expedited upon submission of evidence of the reasons why the application must be processed within a shorter period of time.
American Waivers Of Inadmissibility
Depending on the type of conviction you have and the length of time which has passed, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (which is being merged into the new Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003) may require you to apply for a US Waiver.
Once you have obtained a waiver, the US government knows that it has “checked you out” and deemed it appropriate for you to enter the United States. While your entry into the United States is still (and always) left to the discretion of the immigration officer at the point of entry, having a waiver is strong support in favour of your admission.
There are several forms required and supporting documents in the application process. Our office has 20 years of experience in applying for waivers and with US Immigration in general. We are aware of the things USCIS looks for when considering your application.
There are two separate processes for non-immigrant and immigrant waivers. If you are about to commence or have commenced the paperwork to apply for your permanent residency, you will need to apply for an immigrant waiver-even if you have previously been approved for a non-immigrant waiver.
At this time, the average processing time for a waiver ranges anywhere from 2 months to 6 months in the Montana district, which includes Alberta. There are different processing times in other USCIS districts.
American Paroles For Emergency Travel
If you have been deemed inadmissible to the United States for criminality, immigration violations or other reasons, but are not able to obtain a waiver in time for your travel, the US CIS may allow you entry for temporary trips in extenuating circumstances such as medical, business or compassionate emergencies. The granting of paroles is highly discretionary. Please contact our office for more details.
Never plead guilty to any charge without getting advice first. You’re facing criminal charges. Choosing the right lawyer is a very important decision.
In our post 9/11 world, the effects of a criminal record can have serious consequences that can last a lifetime. These can affect everything from restricting your ability to travel to eliminating you from many employment opportunities. So, if the police are coming to talk to you or if you have already been charged, it is imperative that you get legal advice and help. Our pardon services will give you all the necessary information about travelling to the US from Canada, with a criminal record.
When Should I Consult A Lawyer?
The sooner the better. There may be evidence which needs to be preserved. The passage of time can affect memory. Any potential witnesses should be identified and contacted shortly after the event. Witnesses’ statements are best obtained immediately after the event.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Legally you can represent yourself, however it is not recommended. Criminal law is complex, with increasingly harsh penalties. There are complicated procedural, evidentiary, constitutional and sentencing issues. Your defence lawyer will be familiar with all of the issues surrounding the charges and the consequences you could face. Your defence counsel will get a disclosure of the case against you, including police notes and witnesses’ statements as well as negotiate with the prosecution for the withdrawal of charges, a lesser charge or a reduced sentence.
How Much It Will Cost?
It is worth every penny to pick up the phone and call our firm for an initial phone consultation. There is a minimum charge of 10 minutes for phone consultations, after 10 minutes the regular rate for the lawyer applies on a per minutes basis. There is a minimum charge of 30 minutes for in person consultations, after 30 minutes the regular rate for the lawyer applies on a per minutes basis.
During the initial consultation, we will make a first assessment of the case against you. Based on the assessment the lawyer will tell you an estimated fee. The lawyer’s hourly fee is $450.00 (as on 26th March 2009). The total fee the lawyer charges depends on the complexity of your case. A major factor is the amount of time the lawyer will have to spend on your case. Taxes and expenses, including the expense of retaining an expert witness (if necessary) are additional to the fee. For true experts on the subject, our pardon services in Canada will explain everything you need to know.
Before you rush into anything, get legal advice on all pardons and waivers that are available to you in Canada. Find out all of your options before you make any decision. Remember, if you want to plead guilty, you can always do so after you have received advice from the lawyer.