How does US immigration deal with pardoned Canadians?

Residents of British Columbia who have made use of the opportunity to get pardons for prior criminal convictions might not realize how that could affect their trips across the border. A man from another province recently reported how a pardon led to the U.S. immigration officials barring him from entering the United States. British Columbia citizens could have similar unanticipated problems.

The man explained that he had a couple of mischief convictions that followed overindulgence of alcohol when he was much younger. He says both cases were conditionally discharged, and the record had little or no effect on his adult life. However, his wife, who is a teacher, convinced him to apply for a pardon. He did as she asked and admitted that receiving pardons for both charges relieved him of the ever-present burden.

The man also explained that he was a frequent traveller to the United States, and before the pardons, border agents never had a problem with him crossing the border. This was because mischief is not a crime that typically prevents entry into the U.S., and border agents could see which crimes were on his record. However, once they were pardoned, the details were erased. Because authorities could then only see that he was pardoned for old crimes, with no idea of the severity of his crimes, he was refused entry into the United States.

Anyone in British Columbia who is in a similar situation might have questions about their future travels south of the border. Any issues related to U.S. immigration laws are best dealt with by an experienced lawyer who deals with border issues daily. Sorting out these issues before arriving at the border could avoid hours of questioning, and even being barred from entry into the United States.

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