Vacation & Expungement

Tacoma Vacation and Expungement Lawyers Helping Clients Avoid Travel Restrictions

When traveling, whether for an enjoyable vacation or business, the last thing you want is to have your plans derailed by a preventable issue. While you may have moved on from prior criminal convictions that have little bearing on your current life, anything on your criminal record after the time you turned 18 has the potential to cause issues when you are traveling internationally. Immigration agencies may run background checks when you request a visa or attempt to cross the border, and certain convictions can result in a ban upon entry to some countries.

Expungement of the arrests or convictions on your criminal record can help you avoid these costly and stressful issues while traveling. If you are planning a vacation, it can be helpful to consult with a lawyer from South Sound Law Group to determine whether your criminal record could cause difficulties with your travel plans. If necessary, our lawyers can help you get your arrests and convictions expunged or vacated, so they are no longer a hindrance to your travels.

How Can a Criminal Record Impact Your Ability to Travel?

While not every country runs a background check on visitors, some popular travel destinations do, and what they uncover in their checks may be used as a reason to deny entry to visitors. For example, Canada has very strict travel laws. Even non-violent crimes on your record, such as shoplifting, drug possession, dangerous driving, and DUIs, could result in inadmissibility. The United Kingdom also follows fairly stringent laws regarding background checks. For example, you could be refused entry to the U.K. if you’ve been sentenced to a jail term over 12 months within the last ten years.

If you have a criminal record, it is in your best interests to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before you travel to understand their immigration rules and any issues you may encounter. Remember that lying about your record to border patrol officials, even inadvertently, is often a crime and could result in legal consequences or a lifelong ban upon entry to the country.

Does It Make a Difference if You Are a U.S. Citizen Versus a Non-Citizen?

If you are a U.S. citizen with a criminal record, you may face travel issues when crossing the border into another country. You may be denied entry by the border patrol, or you could face questioning and be required to submit extra documentation. For non-citizens, especially those with convictions for more serious crimes, the most significant difficulties may arise when trying to re-enter the United States. Your visa or resident alien card is scanned at that time, and immigration officials may be alerted to your criminal record. For some individuals, this can result in an immigration hearing that could even lead to deportation. If you are a non-citizen with a criminal record, it is imperative to discuss your travel plans with an attorney to ensure that you do not face unexpected legal issues when returning to the U.S.

How Can Expungement Help You?

Expungement, and the closely related legal process of vacating a charge, can help clear your record and make international travel much easier and less stressful. When your charge is expunged or vacated, you can truthfully say that you have not been convicted of that particular crime. Some countries’ immigration agencies regard expunged charges differently than others, so it is critical to discuss the immigration policies of your chosen destination with a lawyer before traveling to understand how to address any questions or concerns which might be raised. An expungement also has the added benefits of helping you at home in the U.S. with situations where a clean background check is often needed, like applying for a job or renting an apartment.

Why Should You Contact a Lawyer Before You Travel if You Have a Criminal Record?

Our lawyers at South Sound Law Group can help ensure that your international travel plans go smoothly, even if you have a criminal record. We can provide information on the specific immigration laws of your destination and determine whether your record could pose a problem. If there’s a foreseeable issue, we can help you with the expungement process to clean up your record and simplify your travels. If you are a non-citizen, it is especially crucial to ensure that your criminal record won’t cause major legal difficulties upon re-entering the U.S. If you are planning a trip soon and have concerns about your record, contact our office today to schedule an appointment: 253-383-3328.