Frequently Asked Questions

You Ask. We Answer.

We know you probably have a ton of questions and we appreciate the importance of providing you with clear answers.

The following are some of our most-asked questions and you can always send us a contact form message if you need more help.

Common Pardon / Record Suspension Questions:

To become eligible for your Record Suspension (or Pardon) you must have satisfied your disposition (sentence), meaning completed your probation, jail term and/or paid your fine(s), surcharge or restitution.

Once this has been done the clock starts ticking. For summary convictions the wait period is 5 years and for indictable the wait period is 10 years.

Some offences are considered hybrid under the criminal code, whereby the judge has the authority to determine which method of trial to prosecute under based on the severity of the offence and/or whether there has been a pattern of criminality.

Other variables must also be factored in. These include what province your offence took place and what year, as the Criminal Records Act had further amendments made in 2017 for two provinces alone.

Contact Pardon Partners for help in determining when you are eligible.

For all intents and purposes there is no real difference between a Pardon and Record Suspension.

The language changed after Bill C-10, implemented by the Conservative government, came into effect in 2010.

An approved Record Suspension will seal your criminal record the same way a Pardon will and remove it from the active CPIC database allowing you to pass criminal record checks.

100%. The world changed after September 11, 2001 things like travel, employment, volunteering and more all began to be scrutinized more carefully.

Employers, who in the past did not require a background check, started to enforce this as mandatory in sectors you may not expect to require such.

Even the most qualified applicant with an offence dating back 30 years started to find themselves disqualified for employment opportunities after a background check was done that divulged an old criminal offence still on file with police and RCMP.

The good news, in Canada we have the opportunity to remove criminal records to allow us to move forward from a past that no longer captures who we are.

Our government recognizes this program assists individuals with employment and educational opportunities and helps to reintegrate into society.

Call us today to find out how to put your criminal record behind you.

Generally not, but sometimes yes.

Once a Record Suspension (or Pardon) is granted, your criminal record is removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and kept separate and apart from active records.

If you are asked to complete a criminal record check after receiving a Record Suspension, it will come back clear.

The only caveat is assault related offences and choosing to work with the vulnerable sector. In these cases, that being if you would like to work with children, the elderly or otherwise vulnerable people and have an assault-related offence on record, you will be required to provide a Vulnerable Sector criminal record check and in this case the Pardoned offence will show up.

This is done to keep our vulnerable people safe.

If you choose to work in a bank instead, an assault related pardoned offence would not show up on a criminal record check after a Pardon is granted.


A Record Suspension (or Pardon) and a US Entry Waiver are two separate applications that do not dictate the chance of success of the other.

A pardon will remove your record in Canada allowing you to pass criminal record checks for employment, education, volunteering, mortgage approval, apartment rental, child custody among others things.

Although the US does not recognize Pardons, it is understood that the government sees this program as a rehabilitative measure and we believe having a Pardon will further support your US Entry Waiver application.

A US Entry Waiver is required if you are stopped by Customs & Border Protection Officers attempting to enter the US with a criminal record on file or if you have previously overstayed on an approved immigration benefit.

The Canadian criminal code outlines all criminal offences in Canada and dictates whether they are considered a summary (or less serious) offence (known in the US as a misdemeanor) or indictable (more serious) understood to be the equivalent to a felony.

With that said, many offences are considered hybrid, whereby the presiding Judge has the authority to determine how the case will be handled in court.

The important factor with respect to how this affects you applying for a Pardon is the waiting period.

Offences after 2010 across the country are required to wait 5 or 10 years after the disposition (or punishment) has been satisfied.

Offences prior to 2010 in Ontario and BC are calculated differently based on the appropriate legislation.

The short answer is “yes”.

Bill C-10 implemented by the Conservative government in March 2012 changed the name from Pardon to Record Suspension among other aspects but the overall effect is the same.

Both, once approved, are removed from all databases, and sealed from anyone accessing this past information.

Both can still be revoked if the applicant were to be convicted of a serious offence again.

The percentage of Record Suspension or Pardon applications denied each year by the federal government is low, approximately 6%.

Criteria to confirm you meet eligibility requirements is clear, and as long as we prove you meet the good conduct criteria it is unlikely your application would be denied.

Though government and individual clerical errors happen regularly and documents expire if the process is not followed explicitly when doing it on your own, the government generally provides opportunities to correct or add something that may be missing before they would deny the application outright.

With cannabis becoming legal for recreational use in Canada on October 17, 2018, individuals with past criminal offences of simple possession are now wondering what steps need to be taken to have these offences removed.

Cannabis Amnesty strongly advocated for the government to expunge this type of offence for individuals and after many months before the House of Commons and then Senate, royal assent was approved in June 2019.

Although expunging a simple possession charge sounds straight-forward, many factors must be evaluated and in the end a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Pardon) is still required.

The exciting news is, you no longer have to pay the federal government processing fee and eligibility and subsequent criteria are no longer evaluated in decision-making.

In March 2012, the Conservative government implemented new rules to the Pardon process under Bill C-10.

When Bill C-10 came into effect, it introduced extended eligibility periods, new language (Record Suspension, former called a Pardon), additional requirements and an overall challenge in adapting to the new rule for both individuals and government agencies alike.

The most significant challenge became obtaining accurate information on official government documentation.

In addition, significant backlogs for thousands of people that were eligible for their pardon now having to wait under the new rules of calculations.

Common U.S. Entry Waiver Questions:

The United States Department of Homeland Security – Customs & Border Protection – considers anyone with a criminal record, someone who overstays on an approved visa or attempts to enter the country with contraband, inadmissible.

Their job is to protect the border from any harm or risk to their residents and this is some of the criteria they use when reviewing individuals presenting their passport or other travel documents to enter for business or pleasure.

Although your criminal offence may be very old, which would suggest you do not pose a current risk, an offence that is found on the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database most often disqualifies you from advance permission to enter the country.

In order to avoid disappointment during travel, it is recommended that you confirm you are eligible to travel freely into the US.

The easiest way to do so is to contact one of our team to discuss your situation.

A Pardon or Record Suspension is a Canadian application that removes your criminal record of conviction in Canada.

If not completed prior to traveling into the US and your record is found by US Customs & Border Protection, you may be refused entry and instructed to apply for a Waiver.

The Waiver is an additional travel document required to be presented each time you enter the US.

It is a renewal application and must remain valid upon each entry.

You may require one or both but an evaluation of your particular situation should be assessed before embarking upon the work involved.

Waivers are typically approved for 1 year upon submitting your initial application.

It should be noted that this is a renewal application as the US will evaluate any changes to your personal information during the review of each new application.

Generally, if your offences are not recent and/or nothing new turns up on a new application, you can expect the second application to be approved for a longer period of time.

The US government fee to submit your US Entry Waiver is $585USD.

This is paid to Customs & Border Protection Officers upon submitting your application.

There is a significant amount of paperwork to compile before you can submit a complete application to prove you do not pose a risk if allowed into the country.

While you are welcome to work on the application yourself, many individuals find it challenging and time consuming and resort to using an agency to prepare the application, collect and analyze the required documents and present a strong application for you.

If working with a lawyer, you can expect to pay upwards of $5,000.

If working with an agency like us, you can expect to pay between $800-$2,000.

With 20 years experience, we are confident in preparing strong U.S. Waiver applications with a 96% success rate.

If your application does not appear to fare well, we will be transparent with you and offer a more realistic timeline to apply where your application will find a better chance of success.

No, but our goal is to assist you in preparing a strong application that establishes the merit of your request and the lack of risk to society if you are permitted entry.

The Department of Homeland Security takes into account a number of factors during decision-making.

These include but are not limited to:

  • the nature of the applicant’s desire to enter the US,
  • the type of offence on record,
  • circumstances that led to the offence,
  • the recency of the offence,
  • whether it was an isolated offence or a pattern,
  • if there is evidence of reformation or rehabilitation,
  • seriousness of the cause behind inadmissibility, and
  • how this offence was fair in the US with respect to it being considered a misdemeanor or felony

After 20 years in the industry, we are well versed in the US government’s assessment factors for applications that stand very little chance.

Moreover, we will always be clear from the beginning in outlining your chances of success.

Generally speaking, it is illegal to enter the US with a Canadian criminal record, however, there are caveats.

At Pardon Partners, although we would always advise against attempting to enter the US prior to receiving your Pardon, life circumstances don’t always allow for this.

You may have an upcoming wedding, a funeral or important business meeting to attend.

There are situations where the Customs & Border Patrol Officers (CBP) are permitted to use their personal discretion based on you having only one summary (or misdemeanor) offence, but this does not guarantee entry.

If you must enter the US prior to your Pardon being approved, it is best to discuss your circumstances with one of our professionals to outline best case versus worst case scenarios and how to prepare yourself with your best chances of entry.

If you have found yourself in a situation where entry into the US is imperative and are looking to obtain permission urgently, there are formal steps in place to apply for this type of status.

However, this option is only offered under very specific circumstances and does not happen instantaneously.

It is recommended that you speak to one of our team members to guide you through what this process entails.

As neighbouring countries with a shared border, Canada and the U.S. have access to pertinent information to keep our borders safe.

The officials at each of the borders, Customs & Border Protection (CBP) on the US side and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the Canadian side have access to the other other countries federal police databases.

If you have been fingerprinted for a criminal offence, even if you were not found guilty, there is a very high probability that your assigned fingerprint section number is available in the RCMP database.

Upon presenting yourself at any port of entry (land border or international airport), the CBP Officers have the ability to check the CPIC database to access your criminal record or fingerprint number.

Once this information has been obtained, it is likely you will be denied entry and instructed to obtain a US Entry Waiver for any future travel into the US.


Although cannabis has become legal in Canada and some US states, for both medical and recreational use, it is considered a controlled substance and remains illegal under federal law in the US.

As federal law prohibits importation and exportation of marijuana, crossing the international border with marijuana would rank as a very serious offence that could result in seizure, fines, arrest and will impact your admissibility.

The easy answer is: don’t travel with marijuana.

If you must for medical purposes, we recommend speaking to one of our team to discuss your situation.

Common Criminal Rehabilitation Questions:

If you have a foreign criminal record of conviction you will be required to complete this application to request permission to enter Canada.

Canadian and American governments share criminal record databases, so it is ill advised to attempt to enter Canada if you have a criminal conviction on file in your home country.

If your criminal record does not consist of a conviction, it is recommended you seek further advice or direction on how to legally enter Canada without potential upset of finding out you will be denied entry after making concrete travel plans.

Contact us to review your case and answer any questions you may have.

Any criminal record or conviction outside of Canada is grounds for being denied entry.

If you have been charged by police for a criminal offence outside of Canada, this will be available to border officials and being refused entry and possibly being held for interviews is very likely.

To avoid travel arrangements being hampered, we encourage you to do your due diligence before booking flights or hotel accommodation.

Offences rendering you inadmissible include, but are not limited to:

  1. DUI (DWI, Drive Over 80mgs, etc.)
  2. Assault, Domestic Violence
  3. Theft related offences
  4. Fraud related offences
  5. Drug related offences (Possession, Trafficking, etc.)

We are happy to discuss your particular situation further, so feel free to reach out with questions.

It is illegal to enter Canada with a criminal record of conviction, however, there are solutions to resolve your inadmissibility.

Depending on how long ago your offence took place and your need to enter, different immigration applications will serve you.

Pardon Partners offers services for individuals with offences more than 5 years ago or older, and will provide alternative resources for individuals with more recent offences.

We would strongly advise against trying this.

DUI (an american term or abbreviation) is the equivalent to Drive While Ability Impaired (DWI), Drive with over 80 mgs alcohol in blood, Care & Control of Vehicle all of which are considered illegal offences under the Canadian Criminal Code.

If you have an offence of this nature on record outside of Canada, you must follow laws governing the borders if you have intentions of entering Canada.

The Criminal Rehabilitation application takes place in two phases: The first requires document collection and analysis and the second is government decision making.

Collecting and analyzing the required documentation can take anywhere from 4-10 months, followed by government decision-making which can take upwards to 12 months, but sometimes happens sooner.

Correspondence is most often sent out to confirm the process is underway and an estimated timeline to expect a decision.

Make sure to start well in advance of any intended travel to ensure you are permitted to enter and do not experience delays or worse, refusal of entry to Canada.

Our Services


We'll simplify the process and ensure you submit the most accurate application possible.


We'll help you so that being turned away from the American border is a thing of the past.


We'll work with you to prepare a strong application and get your freedom to travel into Canada back.

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Step 2

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