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If you have a criminal record for shoplifting you may not be allowed to enter the United States. You can be denied entry if:

  • You are over the age of eighteen and
  • You have a criminal record for a crime of moral turpitude (which can include shoplifting).

However, it might be possible to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility, which would allow you to enter the United States. To apply for such a waiver, you can often apply in advance of your travel for a temporary waiver directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. When an application is completed, it is important you have all the proper application forms and required documents and records. The U.S. government will not consider your application until all of the documentation has been received.

If you are granted a waiver then you will be able to enter the United States, despite your conviction for shoplifting.

Applying for a waiver is a long and costly process. It can take up to a year for the U.S. to give you a decision. The application fee costs US $585.00 per application. The fee is not refundable, even if your waiver is not granted.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service web-site has application forms and instructions for filling them out. There are a number of different forms, depending on your immigration status. There are also different locations where the forms can be filed. You can apply at:

  1. The Port of Entry office in the U.S. where you hope to enter;
  2. A Preclearance location in Canada

You may want to speak with a lawyer before completing and filing an application.

Is shoplifting a crime of moral turpitude?

Yes, a conviction for theft is considered a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude.

What documents do I need for my application?

The documents required for each application may vary. It is difficult to put together a complete list, as it often varies case by case. A lawyer can help you identify documents that will be required for your application. Some of the documents you may need include:

  • Signed and completed application;
  • Counsel form;
  • Fingerprint chart;
  • Personal information form;
  • Criminal record check;
  • Copy of any criminal file you have in any court system;
  • Citizenship proof;
  • Statement of intended activities;
  • Copy of official court record for any conviction.

What is a fingerprint chart?

A fingerprint chart is a set of your fingerprints. U.S. officials must take the prints. You are unable to provide a copy of your fingerprints yourself.

Your fingerprints will be taken by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer. This can happen when you submit your application in person. Or, if you send your application by mail then you will receive instructions for how to give a fingerprint chart once the rest of your application is complete.

Where do I need to send my application?

There are two places you can send an application:

  • to a Port of Entry office in the U.S.;
  • to a Preclearance office in Canada

Not all Port of Entry locations accept waiver applications. It is the responsibility of the applicant to file his or her application at an appropriate location.

If you are filing your application at a Preclearance office then you must attend in person. A fingerprint chart will be taken at that time.

Can I check the status of my application?

You may send an e-mail requesting an update on your application status. However, you cannot ask for an update until at least 130? days have passed from the date you submitted your application.

A full review of your application will usually take up to a year. If you make status updates this may add to the timeline.

Are there other reasons I may need a waiver, other than my conviction for shoplifting?

Yes, there are many reasons why the U.S. might deny you entry. Some other situations where a person may need to apply for a waiver to enter the U.S. include:

  • Having a communicable disease;
  • Involvement with terrorism or terrorist organizations (waivers for this category WILL NOT be approved);
  • If you have overstayed a previous stay in the U.S.