Travelling to the US? Here’s what your travel agent didn’t tell you!

If you are travelling to the US on a direct flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in addition to the standard security checks, travellers must clear U.S. Customs at the Halifax Stanfield International  Airport.

Recently the U.S. Department of Home Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services has upgraded their computer system. When you scan your passport they are in receipt of more information about you than in the past.  One sensitive piece of information that pops up is if you have been convicted of any crimes even dating back to over 30 years ago.

You will be denied entry into the U.S. if you were convicted of certain crimes in the past.  This means you cannot board any flight from Halifax that is traveling to the U.S.

This is not something that your travel agent may have knowledge about.

At this point, the traveller is taken into the U.S. Customs Office at the airport and must complete documentation with respect to being inadmissible to the United States.

This doesn’t mean you can never go to the U.S. again – there is a process whereby you obtain finger prints and a criminal records check from your local police department, and send the reports along with certain forms and fees of up to $600 US to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  You make an Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant.

This process does not happen overnight. It can takes months for the fingerprint report to come back. From there you must make an appointment with a U.S. Customs Officer and go to the airport for an interview – it could take months before you obtain an appointment time.  The Officer will submit your Application and then you wait.

The procedure is complicated and takes a long time, but eventually you will obtain Approval.  You present this Approval the next time you intend to travel to the U.S.

Point of the story is – if you think you may be inadmissible to the U.S. then you should definitely start the Application process as soon as possible.  You should not book any flights to the U.S. until you are positive you will be permitted entry.

If you have any questions or require any additional information about this matter, please give us a call.

Diana Metlege