Travel & Court Proceedings

Individuals with criminal records for theft may be denied access to the United States. You may be denied entry if you are eighteen or older and have a criminal record for crimes of moral turpitude. In general, having a criminal record jeopardizes your ability to gain entry into the United States.

However, it is possible to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility, which if granted will allow you to enter the United States. In some cases it is possible to apply directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in advance of your travel for a temporary waiver of inadmissibility. Individuals complete the application forms and provide all required documentation and records to the U.S. government before U.S. officials will consider granting a waiver. If a waiver is issued then an individual is able to enter the United States, despite his or her criminal record.

The waiver application process is lengthy and costly. It can take up to a year to get a decision and there is a cost of US $585.00 per application regardless of the decision.

Application forms and instructions for filling them out can be obtained on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Web-site. There are different forms depending on your immigration status and different locations where you can file them. You can apply at either (1) the Port of Entry office in the United States where you hope to enter; or (2) at a Preclearance location in Canada. You may want to speak with a lawyer before completing and filing an application to ensure you are following the correct procedures and filing the appropriate documents.


What are some crimes of moral turpitude?

The most common types of crimes involving moral turpitude that would make you inadmissible to enter the United States are murder, manslaughter, rape, theft, bribery, forgery, aggravated battery, prostitution, and fraud.

It is important to note that theft is included in this list and may threaten your ability to enter the United States.


What documentation do I need to support my application?

Some of the documents you will need to provide are listed below. However, this list is not exhaustive and it is advisable to contact a lawyer or the office you plan to apply to before you submit an application. Some of the required documents include:

  • Completed application form signed and submitted.
  • Completed counsel form (if you have retained counsel).
  • S. fingerprint chart.
  • Form containing biographic information.
  • Copy of an official police record.
  • Copies of any criminal file you have in any other country’s court system.
  • Evidence of citizenship.
  • A statement regarding your intended activities in the United States.
  • A copy of the official court record from the actual court of conviction.

You must also submit a signed statement in your own words that explains the circumstances of each arrest, conviction, sentence or fine imposed. You may also submit any evidence or explanation of your reform or rehabilitation such as counseling or rehabilitation programs completed, current employment, marital status, community service, etc.


What is a fingerprint chart?

A fingerprint chart is a set of your fingerprints taken by authorities of the United States. You cannot provide a copy of your own fingerprints.

A United States Customs and Border Protection Officer will complete a fingerprint chart when you go in person to submit your application at a designated location. If you have submitted your application by mail, instructions for obtaining a fingerprint chart will be given to you after the rest of the application has been received.


Where should I file my application?

You can file your application at a Port of Entry in the United States or at a Preclearance office in Canada.

However, not all Ports of Entry accept waiver applications. It is your responsibility to file your waiver application at the appropriate office or to retain counsel to assist you with your application.

Furthermore, if you are going to file your application at a Preclearance office in Canada you must appear in person and the U.S. set of fingerprints will be taken at that time.


How will I know the status of my Application?

You may make an inquiry about the status of your application by e-mail. However, you must allow at least 130 days from the date of submission of your application form before you inquire about its status. A full review can take up to a year and requests for status updates may add to that timeline.


When else may an individual need to apply for a waiver?

Entry to the United States may be denied for a number of reasons other than having a criminal record.

Therefore, there are a number of other situations that could arise where individuals need to apply for waivers to be granted access to the United States. Some common examples include: if you have a communicable disease, if you have any involvement with terrorism or terrorist organizations (but: no waivers can be approved for this category), or if you have overstayed a previous period of admission to the U.S.


Promises to Appear and Appearance Notices

When you are arrested for theft, the police will need to make a discretionary decision about whether or not to release you that day or hold you in custody until you can appear in court for a bail hearing. Generally, individuals charged with theft will be released from police custody on the date of their arrest. Only more serious offences, or where special circumstances exist will be dealt with through formal bail proceedings.

Officers will give you paper documents when they release you from custody that outline what the next steps in the criminal justice process are. There are 2 common kinds of release documents:

  1. Form 9 – Appearance Notice
  2. Form 10 – Promise to Appear


Appearance Notice

An appearance notice is a form of release given to the charged individual by a police officer. An appearance notice will contain important information that you should pay particular attention to, including:

  • Name and address of the offender;
  • Offence charged;
  • Date, time and location of the first court appearance and
  • Date, time and location for fingerprints.

An appearance notice requires the person named on the form to attend for both dates listed on the document. Failure to attend on these dates can result in further charges being laid or a warrant being issued for your arrest.


Promise to Appear

A promise to appear is also a form of release given to the charged individual by a police officer. It also contains:

  • Name and address of the offender;
  • Offence charged;
  • Date, time and location of the first court appearance and
  • Date, time and location for fingerprints.


With a promise to appear, the offender must sign the release document and promise to attend both listed dates in order to be released. Again, failure to attend on these dates can result in further charges being laid or a warrant being issued for your arrest

Promises to appear differ from appearance notices in one very important way. They are usually in Form 11.1 – Undertaking given to a Peace Officer or Officer in Charge. This form is similar to bail conditions imposed by a court. An undertaking made to a police officer is a promise to comply with specific conditions at all times while your criminal charges are pending. You will often be required to sign an undertaking to abide by listed conditions before the police will allow you to be released.

When an offender signs Form 11.1 it signifies his or her agreement to follow the listed conditions. Breach of these conditions can result in serious consequences, including further criminal charges.


The police have a wide discretion to impose conditions on offenders pursuant to a Promise to Appear. Examples of some potential conditions include:

  • Notify police within 24 hours of a change of address.
  • Keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
  • Abstain from consuming alcohol.
  • Notify police of any change in address, employment or occupation.
  • Abstain from the consumption of drugs.
  • Reside at a court-approved address.


Conditions imposed are often specific to the offence alleged. In circumstances where there are theft charges, there will almost always be a condition preventing the charged person from entering the premises where the alleged theft took place.

It is important to keep track of your release document. Upon an initial consultation with counsel, this document provides the first information counsel will need to become informed about your situation and charges.

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