So what does it mean that having a criminal record can "spoil travel plans"?

There was one thing that is sometimes said by the police on TV that if someone has a criminal record it can make it harder to get a house or harder to get a job and it can “spoil travel plans” but I have no idea what this actually means. If someone has committed an offence of moral turpitude they are not able to enter the USA or Australia for life the USA or Australia for life of course if on a plane and asked if they have committed an offence of moral turpitude they could just lie but that would probably be another offence of moral turpitude and does that mean that people in USA who have committed this can’t leave the country? Anyone tell me more about all of this then?

I know that people with DUIs can have trouble entering Canada.

It means that many countries restrict entry to people with criminal records. What crimes result in such a restriction, how long the restriction lasts, and what exactly the restriction means will vary from country to country. Sometimes, especially for a serious crime, it’s insurmountable and the person simply can’t ever visit a particular country. Sometimes it’s possible for them to get a visa in advance by submitting paperwork proving that they’ve been a good boy or girl for so many years.

But it means they have to do that research every single time they travel to a new country, possibly apply for visas which usually means paying steep nonrefundable fees, and possibly be held up at the border even if they’ve done everything by the book. I believe you can be refused entry to the US even if you were granted a visa, if the immigration officers at the port of entry think you shouldn’t have been given one.

Lying might work, or the correct information might have popped up on the immigration officer’s computer screen a second after the passport was scanned. In the latter case, lying is a good way to make sure the rules are applied with brutal strictness (or worse, be arrested or fined for making a false declaration), whereas telling the truth might get the person some slack.

There was a case in Canada not long ago where a woman in a wheelchair was denied entry into the USA. It seems a year or so before, she was severely depressed and had attempted suicide. Apparently there’s a database of all police interactions with the public, and her name was on it because of the 911 call for an ambulance. The border guard saw this and decided she was not allowed in, because she was a danger to herself and others. US border guards have access to the Canadian police database. From what I read, even if you just call in a 911 call or report a crime, any interaction with police, your name is in there.

Also heard a case of a fellow in BC whose mother found his drug stash when he was 15, and called the police to “teach him a lesson”. Years later, he’s 35 and taking his kids to Disneyland, and he’s denied entry. A 50-year-old low level executive where I work was denied entry to the USA for a business seminar in Washington, because he was drunk and not cooperative with the border guard, so they used his juvenile conviction as a reason to bar him.

The border guards have wide latitude to determine what is “moral turpitude”. You do not even have to be convicted. I read a warning about attending Burning Man - someone was headed there from Canada and was asked if he had ever done drugs in his life. He said yes, and was barred for admitting to a criminal act.

The USA has a wide latitude for this. Not sure about Australia, but I recall reading the rules for New Zealand once, and IIRC they were fairly explicit - people with sentences of 10 years or more were barred for life, less than that you had to have been out of prison for 10 years, or something like that. Most other countries don’t have the same access to that database, so less likely to know about convictions, I suppose. When I went to China, the warnings about not getting a visa had more to do with whether you worked for a media company; I don’t recall reading anything about crimes. Flying into Europe from North America, the passport checks were fairly quick and not too detailed.

Almost every country asks if you have a criminal record for applying for even short term tourist visits. Specific countries like US / Canada share criminal records and many within Europe do. Beyond that criminal record sharing automatically is pretty non-existent. There is no global data base of criminal records and theres not likely to be one anytime soon.

The nearest thing we have is an INTERPOL Red Notice, which is an international request for a particular passport number to be flagged and detained. Which is only going to happen for pretty serious cases where its known or suspected that someone has fled a country.
http://www.undispatch.com/what-an-interpol-red-notice-actually-means/

By the letter of the law if you have a criminal record you are obliged to answer that on every form where you enter a country and in most cases get a visa in advance even if normally there is a visa waiver between your two countries.

Or other traffic violations.

I have a friend who was denied entry into Canada based on a car wreck that included a fatality that happened ~20 years previously. IIRC, he was not guilty of the fatality, but he had some sort of semi-serious traffic ticket. Still, no Canada for him.

My BS meter is going off on the first one; please provide a cite for this. There isn’t even a database here that the police can access that has all 911 call data, let alone Canada. The second scenario is the one I see at the Canadian border, they trick you into admitting to a crime in your past. While they do have access to all people convicted of felonies and will deny them entry, DUI’s are not a felony in most states and do not show up at the border crossing unless you committed a felony DUI (most likely multiple DUI’s) or a serious traffic violation that is labeled a minor felony.

What I have witnessed the Canadian border guards doing is ask you a string of questions meant to trick you up. Border Guard: Ever kill anyone? You: of course not. Border Guard: Well how about just a DUI (wink)? You: oh yes I had one years ago. Border Guard: Well your buddies can go through but you have to turn around you stinking lowlife, you are never getting into Canada. True story.

Sometimes they don’t ask any questions at all. Depends upon their mood that day and how you look I suppose.

I don’t have a cite for it, but I agree with md2000 - I remember seeing it on the news. It’s not that US border agencies can access 911 calls in Canada. Rather, the details of the 911 call got added to a Canadian police data base, because the call triggered a police intervention to prevent the suicide. The US border service then had access to that Canadian police database.

Yes, as I understand it, the Canadian approach isn’t based on what the US laws call it (feline misdemeanour, etc). Instead, the question is, “If this had occurred in Canada, how would we categorise it?” DUI in the States may just be a misdemeanour, but in Canada the equivalent is a federal Criminal Code offence, so automatic denial.

I don’t think Canada uses the concept of “moral turpitude” as that’s too fuzzy. It’s just the straightforward question: “if it occurred here, should it be a crime?” If so, no entry unless you jump through the hoops as described by Lord Feldon.

Canada Border Agent: “You stole an oyster bed? Don’t care if that’s just a slight misdemeanour where you come from. We take theft of oyster beds seriously up here. Entry denied!”

The unintended consequences of these restrictions is that reformed criminals that want to do the right thing and answer honestly are likely to face problems with travelling for the rest of their lives.

Criminals who are still criminals will just lie and likely have no problems except for in immediate neighbouring countries.

Bolding mine.

Awesome auto-correct there.:smiley:

“Both you and your damn kittehs can bloody well stay down in the US; we don’t need your kind up heah!”

Bad kitty!

It is perhaps worse in terms of jobs. Lots of people get out of prison, want to work, and can’t find it because of their record. This results in many of them going back to crime because they can’t find any other way to make a living.

You forget to end with: “But have a nice day!” We are polite, after all. :slight_smile:

It’s not an unintended consequence. The policy is to keep out everyone with a criminal record.

There are mechanisms for someone who has kept their nose clean to apply to enter Canada, but the onus is on them to demonstrate it.

That’s why countries like Canada and the States share access to their databases, to catch the liars.

Oh, I didn’t catch that she was Canadian trying to get into the US. Well then this is understandable, we can’t catch radicalised muslims coming in from Pakistan/Saudi but we can clamp down on those crazy Canadians with there socialist leanings. :smack:

Could you please share information on this . . . I have a friend who would like to be able to get back into Canada. Would they need to hire a Canada lawyer? Or could they fill out paperwork themselves.

Martha Stewart was once denied a visa to enter Britain due to her conviction for her role in the ImClone stock trading scandal.

I saw someone denied access to Canada at the border because they saw on their computer that he had a U.S. criminal record. He started yelling and screaming that “He had his rights”, etc…

The Canadian border police politely infromed him he was not in the U.S. and then showed him the door he could go through to return to the U.S.

Yes, the police system tracks not just criminals, but witnesses and people who call 911, basically anyone who ends up identifying themselves to police or 911. This case was particularly troubling because that sort of medical information is supposed to be private.

I remember reading a discussion about this on some privacy blog. Last time I called to report a possible drunk driver, they wanted details up the wazoo on me too… which I assume went into their database. Even noise complaints, they take all sorts of information. I suppose this helps them see whether this is another call by Nosy Nellie who calls the cops 50 times a month because the neighbour’s cat pees on her begonias (feline misdemeanor?). But it also means that the US border agents have an incredibly rich look into your past encounters with law enforcement - including if you were arrested but not convicted. I assume too it means that if someone reported you for something, even if you never knew, even if the case were dropped - they would read the details.

The difference is, in Canada before Harper’s Law-and-Order obsession, you could get a pardon if you kept your nose clean for 5 years after the sentence was up. A pardon meant you could honestly answer “no” for the question “do you have a criminal record?” the only Law and Order question that could be asked on an employment application (plus “are you bondable?”)

The US border guards can ask “have you ever been arrested?” or “have you ever been fingerprinted?” (Which makes me think their records access includes the Canadian fingerprint databases) . You can’t really answer “You have no right to ask that” because (a) they do and (b) being uncooperative will get you denied too.