Understanding the Implications of a Pardon

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Many people who have been convicted of crimes in the past are ultimately granted a “pardon,” “discharge” or other forms of record-expungement by their government. Accordingly, these individuals are often under the impression that these mechanisms “wipe their record clean.” For U.S. immigration purposes, however, this is not the case.

Under U.S. immigration regulations, judicial expungements do not eliminate criminal convictions. Further, an individual who 1) has been convicted, 2) had a suspended, reduced, mitigated or commuted sentence, 3) has been convicted and then granted probation or parole, or 4) has otherwise been relieved in whole or in part of the penalty imposed is still considered to have been convicted for immigration purposes.

Immigration regulations do not acknowledge foreign pardons, so even if a conviction has been fully pardoned in a country (e.g. Canada), the conviction remains on a foreign national’s record at international border crossing sites. Essentially, pardons will not help you overcome inadmissibility.

Sometimes people are advised by their criminal lawyers that having a pardon allows them to answer “no” if they are asked about holding an arrest record or conviction. This is not the case at the U.S. border. Even if the record no longer exists, an individual must still answer “yes” if questioned by CBP.

Moreover, it is not sufficient to merely tell the truth about your criminal history to permit your entry into the U.S., nor is providing the U.S. government with documentation from your own government attesting to your cleared record. In most cases, individuals with a criminal history must apply for a waiver of inadmissibility with the U.S. government to enter the U.S.

If you have been convicted of a crime in the past — regardless of whether the record has been sealed, expunged or pardoned — and are unsure if this makes you inadmissible to the U.S., Berardi Immigration Law can provide assistance. Please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!

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