While going to Minnesota from Montreal might seem to be a long shot to some, if you are a big horse show fan, you are ready to travel just about anywhere. In fact, I had several good reasons to travel this far. One of them was to look at the show participants and choose my next perfect horse. The next one was much more personal.
I have a good friend, who moved from Toronto to Big Falls two years ago. We have a good tradition of visiting each other on our birthdays. Since his is on July 19th and the Carriage House horse show runs from 20th to 23rd July, the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone seemed tough to bypass.
While contemplating a good mini-vacation and choosing a gift for my good friend Al, I was looking through the horse breeds expected to be part of the show. None of the equines appealed to me at the first glance and I decided to make a decision on the spot. In order to visit Al right on his birthday, I planned to drive to Minnesota on July 18th.
The last time I visited the United States was last July. And here I have something to confess. In the past year, I managed to make a rather stupid mistake, which ended up getting me a criminal record. It was a minor criminal offense, which didn’t affect my business so I forgot about it as soon as it was done with. This was another mistake.
On July 18th, I was happily driving toward the USA border, looking forward to a glass of wine with Al and a swim in a lake. Little did I know that my vacation was about to turn into a disaster. A polite border officer let me know that I was denied entry to the USA for an indefinite amount of time. Stunned I made some calls and realized that the reason for the ban was my “minor” criminal record. The vacation was ruined, Al didn’t get the gift, and my show plans turned to dust.
I couldn’t believe that I have to say goodbye to the United States forever. After calming down a bit, I called a lawyer friend who told me about a way out. A US Entry Waiver is specifically designed to give Canadians a second chance. It turns out that even if you’ve been pardoned, the criminal record can keep you from entering the country. The waiver is the only chance to pass the border.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Entry Waiver Application may take up to a year to be processed, but I still hope I have a chance to visit Al next July. Many Canadians don’t know about this loophole and take the ban for granted. Fortunately, the government realizes that people make mistakes. So unless you really messed up, a waiver can allow you to pass the border again.