Accounting for Law

Never lie about anything to border officials

Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen says it’s vitally important for people never to lie to a border official about any sort of arrest, diversion of charges or conviction – however minor the incident is – while trying to visit the United States.

“The thing is, if you lie to them and say, ‘No, that’s not me or that didn’t happen’ and it turns out that it is you or it did happen, then you’re will likely be deemed ineligible (to enter the country) because you lied at the border,” he tells

Rosen, partner at Rosen Naster LLP, points to a recent Globe and Mail story that highlighted how individuals don’t even need to have a drug conviction to be turned away for drug crimes under s. 212 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. An admission that you’ve used an illegal drug is enough to be told to head back to Canada, says the article.

The newspaper says that even people who have been convicted of a drug crime but have been pardoned could still be banned from the U.S.

Canadians who have been banned may apply for a visa waiver that will allow them to cross into the U.S. They can apply at the border and it takes six months to process; it costs $585 (US), says The Globe.

Even then, Rosen says, the waiver may be refused.

Rosen says border officers have to follow the American laws and regulations, but they also have a discretion that allows them to decide whether to find someone to be ineligible to cross into the United States even if there is no record of an arrest or conviction.

Lying to border officials is considered fraud and a breach of their immigration laws and individuals who lie will be banned from entering, says the article.

According to Rosen, “No matter what your contact with the criminal justice system was, you must answer the officer’s questions truthfully or risk being refused entry then and in the future.”

Rosen says he regularly has Canadian clients calling him with questions and concerns about crossing the American border and the first thing he always advises them is to tell the truth.

“The second thing I do is to send them to an American lawyer to help shepherd them through the system or at least to get an opinion as to whether they should apply for the waiver,” he says.

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