If I have a Criminal Conviction am I Inadmissible to enter the United States?

October 19, 2017


A criminal conviction in Canada can be reason fro inadmissibility to the United States.
A criminal conviction in Canada can be reason fro inadmissibility to the United States.
  • There are many reasons a person may be ineligible to enter the U.S.
  • Inadmissibility arises from "...conviction, or, admitting, even without conviction, the essential elements of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude"
  • Someone could be denied entry if they have a criminal record for crimes of moral turpitude and are age 18 or older.
  • The list of crimes of moral turpitude that are reasons for exclusion from the U.S. is quite detailed.
  • Moral turpitude is a nebulous concept  and can charge over time, refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscious
  • The most common types of crimes involving moral turpitude that would make you inadmissible are:
  1. murder
  2. manslaughter
  3. rape
  4. theft
  5. bribery
  6. forgery
  7. aggravated battery
  8. prostitution
  9. fraud

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  • Drug trafficking and possession are not the most common crimes causing inadmissibility but are recognized as offences that may make someone inadmissible.
  • It is possible that you may be denied entry for possession of a controlled substance conviction.
  • At this time, driving under the influence, breaking and entering, disorderly conduct and simple assault are not considered crimes that make a person inadmissible to the U.S
  • As well, if someone has multiple convictions for lesser offences and or other misdemeanors, you could be denied entry.
  • Someone with a conviction for a lesser offence,  such as possession of a controlled substance,  could attempt entry and hope that it goes unnoticed or can be upfront about it and apply for a waiver that if granted would allow them entry into the US.
  • Applying for an inadmissibility waiver is a lengthy detailed process.
  • For information on inadmissibility waivers check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website

Controlled Substances d Inadmissibility: 

  •  "reason to believe drug trafficking”
  • A person is inadmissible if the U.S. government has reason to believe that they are a or were a drug trafficker.
  • As well, if the person is or has been a drug addict or abuser that may be grounds for inadmissibility.
  • Inadmissibility arises from: a conviction for any violation relating to a controlled substance or admitting (even without conviction) the essential elements of a violation of law pertaining to a controlled substance INA 212


  •  The U.S. government has provisions to bar anyone who has a possession conviction as they are a  “drug abuser"

Exceptions Without Inadmissibility  Waivers:

  •  If the person is Aboriginal they may not need to apply for a inadmissibility waiver despite their criminal conviction:
  • The Aboriginal Caution Jay Treaty:
  • The1849 Treaty between US and UK (for Canada) for the Aboriginal people allows Aboriginal people free crossing of the border
  • US/Canadian born people with at least 50% Aboriginal blood can enter and live in and work in either country without immigration restrictions

Humanitarian Admission

  • Inadmissible individuals can be granted entry for compelling reasons. They may be granted humanitarian entry to the United States for funerals, death bed visits, wedding of a close relative, medical treatment.
  • Humanitarian entry will be granted at point of entry, at the border and will be determined by border security.
  • If you have been charged with a criminal offence contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers today for your free consultation!
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