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Truck Topics

I Fought The Law And The Law Won

By Jeff Jensen
Posted Jan 4th 2002 4:00AM

An owner-operator friend recently changed expediting companies and it was discovered in his background check that he had a criminal conviction from 1972. The original charge was DUI, but this had been downgraded to a charge of reckless driving.

No matter, this almost thirty year old infraction was still on the books, and because of it, he cannot legally enter Canada. Luckily for him, his new company doesn't require it's contractors to take Canadian loads, but this prohibition still has the potential to cost him revenue.

In another case with which we're familiar, an owner had "hired" a couple for his B unit, and itwas discovered that the husband had been convicted in an IRS fraud case a number of years before.

In this particular instance, the problem was not so much with the Canadian authorities or procedures, but rather with the expediting company itself.

The problems the couple experienced included poor communications with the expediting company and the company's inability to correctly identify the supporting documents and procedures necessary to comply with the requirements to obtain the Canadian "Minister's Permit."

Ultimately, the couple left the expediting business because they were unable to comply with the carrier's strict Canadian viability policies.

This anecdotal evidence is not meant to imply that the Canadian government's requirements are harsh or unjust; rather, we relate these stories to illustrate just how a legal problem here in the US can hinder one's career in the transportation industry if transborder crossings are to be a part of that career.

Expediters Online.com frequently receives email requests for information about Canada's policiesregarding non-Canadians with criminal records.

Usually, the owner/operator or driver has a conviction in his/her past, sometimes going back many years, and it's when they attempt to sign on with an expediting company, that this record comes back to haunt them.

Many of the larger, US-based expediting companies require that their independent contractors be legally viable to transport freight in and out of Canada. For those non-Canadians with a criminal conviction, this alone could prohibit their leasing with a company, or could result in a termination of lease when the conviction is discovered.

Legally Speaking

These governmental restrictions operate on both sides of the border. For Canadian citizens with a criminal record wishing to enter the US, certain requirements are imposed on them by US authorities, although the US guidelines are not quite as restrictive in regards to the offences for which the non-US citizen has been convicted.

The wording of the Canadian prohibitions is quite specific:

"Persons who have been convicted of a criminal offense in any country may be INADMISSIBLE TO CANADA as a result of their criminal record. Even persons who do not require a Visa to enter Canada may still be refused permission to enter Canada if they are MEMBERS OF AN INADMISSIBLE CLASS."

"Members of Inadmissible Classes include those who have been convicted of MINOR OFFENCES such as: shoplifting, theft, assault, dangerous driving, unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of illegal substances, failure to pay child support, etc.,

OR,

INDICTABLE CRIMINAL OFFENCES including assault with a deadly weapon, manslaughter, etc. Those who have been convicted of DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI) are considered Members of an Inadmissible Class. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is regarded as an extremely serious offence in Canada."

"Those who have received traffic violations (including parking/speeding tickets, etc.) and other minor violations (i.e. littering, etc.) most likely will not be prohibited from entering Canada.

Similarly, those who have JUVENILE CONVICTIONS (convictions for crimes committed while under age18) most likely will not be prohibited from entering Canada unless they could have been tried as an adult for their offences."

Pretty severe, eh?

At first glance, it would seem that if a US citizen has a criminal record, there would be no chance of his ever entering Canada legally, especially for business or commercial purposes.

The United States can be equally harsh for those non-Americans with criminal convictions in their past. To enter the US without proper documentation may result in the seizure of one's vehicle, monetary fines or a possible jail sentence.

Fortunately, both the US and Canada have procedures which will allow citizens of both countries with past legal indiscretions to travel freely between the two, for business or pleasure.

FOR US CITIZENS AND NON-CANADIANS

For the non-Canadian with a criminal conviction, Canada offers a "Minister's Permit." This is a document which allows one to visit Canada, and is sufficient for the expediter's transborder crossing needs.

This document has an effective life which is usually good for one or two years. The process of procuring this document can take from three weeks to three months on average.

For those who have been convicted of an offense outside Canada and have had 5 years elapse since the termination of the custodial portion (if any) of the sentence imposed (not the sentence served), may apply for a "Minister's Approval of Rehabilitation." The Minister's Approval will permanently remove the inadmissibility caused by conviction.

This Approval may take up to one year to process.

FOR CANADIANS AND NON-US CITIZENS

For the Canadian who wants to enter the US and who possesses a criminal record must apply for a "USWaiver", which is good for one year. The US however, is not as stringent in it's classification of inadmissible persons; for example, a Canadian DUI does not render one inadmissible to the US.

The application process can take upwards of six months. It is NOT permission to work in the US or establish residency in the US.

For Canadians only, one can apply for a pardon to seal their record; once a pardon is awarded, no employers or agencies will be permitted access to this sealed record. The application procedure is a lengthy one, it can take 12 -18 months to process the pardon. A pardon can aid in seeking employment, bond ability and travel to foreign countries.

A NOTE OF CAUTION: A PARDON IS NOT RECOGNIZED BY THE US IMMIGRATION SERVICE.

The US and Canada have mutual and cooperative access to background, criminal and other information through shared computer databases.

Persons may apply for a Minister's Permit,Approval of Rehabilitation, or Minister's Consent either in Canada or at one these CANADIAN VISA OFFICES IN THE UNITED STATES:

The Canadian Consulate General in Buffalo, NY
The Canadian Consulate General in New York, NY
The Canadian Consulate General in Detroit, MI
The Canadian Consulate General in Los Angeles, CA
The Canadian Consulate General in Seattle, WA

NOTE: Be sure to visit the website of the Canadian Visa Office that will be processing your application to confirm hours of operation, processing times, documents/forms required, and other instructions. Application Forms may be obtained from the above offices.

The documentation that may be required by a Canadian Visa Office to process Minister's Permit or Approval of Rehabilitation applications can be extensive. This would include:

POLICE CERTIFICATES from the jurisdictions where the applicant has lived since his/her 18 birthday (or for the last 10 years).

THE APPLICANT'S OWN STATEMENT OF CIRCUMSTANCES leading up to his/her conviction.

COURT RECORDS relating to the applicant's conviction(s).

REPORTS OF PROBATION OR PAROLE OFFICERS.

A COPY OF THE STATUTE under which the applicant was convicted.

THREE LETTERS FROM PERSONS OF STANDING IN THE COMMUNITY who know the applicant personally, and who can attest to the applicant's rehabilitation.

Going through the process

Each process has certain criteria to fulfill, and as can be seen, the information required on the applications is extremely detailed. If mistakes are made in the preparation of the application, it can delay or even cause the application to be denied with a loss of the application fee. These fees can be in the area of hundreds of dollars.

For the owner-operator or driver who wishes to file the applications on his own, there is also the question of loss of revenue during the lengthy waiting period.

In the past, immigration attorneys have been used to facilitate the application process. This method can be pricey, with some attorneys charging upwards of $1,500 in US funds for their services.

It should be noted that this area of law is somewhat specialized and that few attorneys focus on the issues of border crossings and it's requirements.

Professional help

One company that specializes in these issues is Pardon Services of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Lucy Perillo, President of Pardon Services, holds a degree in Law Enforcement, and has been in business since 1994.

Ms Perillo began her business with assistance from her sister, a Sargent with the O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police). When a close friend approached them to enlist their aid, a business idea was born. It first began with submitting a Pardon,t hen the Waivers, and then assisting Americans with a Ministers Permit.

Now, after eight years in business, approximately 70% of Pardon Service's business is transportation related. The company has worked closely with many carriers in the US, including companies such as:

Panther II
Tri-State Expedited, Inc.
Con-Way Now
FedEx Custom Critical
US Express, Inc.
JB Hunt Transportation

Ms Perillo says, "Pardon Services offers free consultations over the phone, through fax, email or regular mail. I tell applicants whether they qualify, what the fees are, etc."

She continues: "Our company gathers pertinent information from the applicant and uses it to file the proper forms needed to acquire Pardons, U.S. Waivers, or Ministers Permits."

"A fee must be submitted with each application. If the application is incorrectly completed, it will be returned to the applicant non-refundable.  PardonServices ensures all the forms are properly completed the first time, saving one time and money."

Ms. Perillo tells us of a recent case: "One US driver began the Minister's Permit procedure over three years ago.  He attempted to apply repeatedly, but each time the application was incomplete and was rejected by the Canadian authorities."

"After he contacted us, we obtained his permission to enter Canada within two months.  Because he was unemployed and waiting for this approval, this matter was of great importance to him."

Sometimes, the "long arm of the law" also has a long memory, as Ms Perillo demonstrates in this case history: "For those who think they no longer have a record or cannot find a copy of their record, this does not signify that you are allowed to cross the border."

"One Canadian driver had two convictions from 1963 that were no longer in the Canadian system, but when this driver attempted to cross into the US, it developed that the US Immigration service DID have copies of these convictions and refused his entry."

"We are currently working on this case, but we see no problems in obtaining his US waiver."

"Our rates are portion of what one would normally pay when using a law firm to process the same application, and of course, all information is protected for confidentiality."

"We are experienced in handling a variety of criminal offences," says Ms Perillo, "And we possess the expertise in providing critical information necessary in order to facilitate the granting of U.S. Waivers, Pardons or Ministers Permits.

"Pardon Services guarantees thorough examinations, professional service, affordable rates, and a timely turnaround."

The problems of those unfortunate brushes with the legal systems of both the US and Canada can pose problems for the professional driver and jeopardize his income.

As we have seen however, those past transgressions can be "forgiven," and with the help of a company such as Pardon Services, the driver can put those problems behind him.

Pardon Services Enterprises MB
130 Scott St.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3L 0K8

Phone: (204) 453-0099
Toll Free: 800-438-7020 (US & Canada)
Fax: 204 975-0394Email at: info@pardonservices.ca

Web Information
Consulate General of Detroit Web Page
Pardon Services Enterprises

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