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Traveling to the US with a Criminal Record: Dispelling the Myths

The United States of America has long been the land of opportunity, but it also has strict laws regarding travel into and residency within its borders. If you have a criminal record and are planning to move to the US, you may be concerned about how this will affect your ability to enter or stay in the country – and you’re not alone! There are many common myths surrounding travel to the US with a criminal record that can make entering or remaining in the country seem difficult, especially if your conviction is for something as serious as murder or drug dealing.

Myth 1- You will not be denied entry for minor charges

Many people think that even minor charges can result in being denied entry into the United States, but this is not always the case. Depending on the charge, you may still be able to enter the country. For example, if you were arrested for public intoxication, this is not considered a crime of moral turpitude and would not result in being denied entry. However, if you have been convicted of a DUI, this is considered a crime of moral turpitude and could result in being denied entry.

Myth 2 – You Need an Attorney

Many people think that they need an US entry Waiver attorney in order to travel to the United States with a criminal record. This is simply not true. While an attorney can help you navigate the process, it is not required. An individual will generally only need an attorney if they have committed certain crimes and are applying for a visa or green card. For Canadians traveling to the U.S., this usually applies if someone has been convicted of more than one crime and/or sentenced to jail time for more than six months.

Myth 3 – Charged Does Not Mean Convicted

Many people think that being charged with a crime is the same as being convicted, but this is not true. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty. This means that even if you are charged with a crime, you may still be able to travel to the United States. If your criminal charge was dismissed or you were found not guilty of a crime, then you can continue travelling without any problems. However, if your charge was for a violent felony or conviction for sex crimes involving children then there is likely to be an issue when crossing the border.

Myth 4 – Expunged Records Aren’t an Issue

If you have an expunged record, it’s as if the crime never happened and you won’t have any issues when travelling to the United States. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Even if your record has been expunged, you will still need to disclose it when applying for a visa. The reason is that there are different standards of what constitutes a conviction depending on the country in which you live. For example, in Canada, having charges dropped means they were never convicted of a crime – so they wouldn’t be considered inadmissible on those grounds.

Myth 5- If You Were Convicted a Long Time Ago, You Will Not Be Denied Entry

The United States has strict entry requirements for individuals with criminal records. However, having a criminal record does not automatically mean that you will be refused entry. Depending on the nature and severity of your charges, you may be able to enter the country by applying for a waiver. Some waivers are available at the border while others require an application filed in advance. There are many myths surrounding traveling to the US with a criminal record. A few common misconceptions include being banned from traveling into America for life, being banned from traveling if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any crime, and being banned from re-entering the country if you overstay your visa or leave for some other reason before it expires.

Myth 6 – Juvenile Crimes Don’t Matter

While it’s true that not all crimes are created equal, and that some are less serious than others, any type of criminal record can potentially impact your ability to travel. This is especially true for juvenile crimes, which are often seen as less serious than adult crimes. However, in the eyes of the US government, a crime is a crime, and any type of criminal record can make it more difficult to obtain a visa.

Myth 7 – Only Violent Offenses Are Grounds for Denial

Many people believe that only violent offenses are grounds for denial when traveling to the United States with a criminal record. However, this is not the case. Any offense, no matter how minor, can be used as a reason for denial. Even if you were convicted of an offense that would normally be considered petty or nonviolent, it could still result in your being denied entry into the U.S. If you have been convicted of an offense and are unsure whether or not it would affect your ability to enter the U.S., it’s best to speak with an immigration lawyer before traveling to ensure you have all of your bases covered!

Myth 8 – You Can Enter Without Approval from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

If you have been convicted of a crime, you will need to obtain approval from ICE before traveling to the United States. This is done by applying for a waiver, which can be a lengthy and expensive process. However, it is possible to obtain a waiver and there are many success stories of people doing so. It is worth noting that in order to apply for a waiver, you must wait at least five years after your sentence has ended or your release from custody if you were incarcerated. Even then, if your conviction was classified as an aggravated felony or has resulted in multiple convictions, this can make obtaining a waiver difficult.

Myth 9 – If I have crossed the border without  a pardon before many times, I won’t be denied entry in the future

One of the most common myths about traveling to the US with a criminal record is that if you’ve been able to cross the border before, you’ll never be denied entry again. This is simply not true. A person may have entered the country and received a waiver for their conviction, but this does not mean they will always be able to enter the country in the future. There are many other reasons why someone may be denied entry, such as committing crimes while visiting or living in another country. The severity of these crimes and how recently they were committed will determine whether or not someone can obtain a travel waiver. If an individual has multiple convictions or has committed serious offenses, it is unlikely that he/she would be eligible for a travel waiver.


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