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Can Canadians apply for a US entry waiver online? What is the e-SAFE system?

A woman travelling to see the mountains with a Canadian flag

If you are subject to one or more of the grounds of inadmissibility, you need a waiver to be allowed to travel to the United States on any non-immigrant visa, including as a visitor. To obtain this waiver, most country nationals need to first apply for the visa at the US consulate and submit their waiver application once the consular officer makes a determination that the applicant is inadmissible.

However, nonimmigrant applicants who are citizens of Canada, Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands have the option to apply online for a waiver without going through the consular process. This is done through Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s e-SAFE portal, which allows electronic filing of Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant, and Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal.

The applicant will first sign up for an e-SAFE account, fill out the applicable Form online, upload electronic copies of required supporting documentation, and pay the fee online. It is also possible for lawyers to create an e-SAFE account and fill out these forms on behalf of their client. For Canadian applicants, one important supporting document is a recent RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) criminal record check, issued 15 months or sooner than the date of filing. A scanned copy can be uploaded to the e-SAFE Portal.

Within 45 days of submitting the application online, the applicant needs to visit one of the designated Ports of Entry (POE) along the Canada-US border to provide their biometrics (fingerprints and photograph). Not all POEs accept biometrics for e-SAFE applications – the list of participating offices can be found here. Some POEs require an appointment, so it is best to call ahead and check. The applicant should also be prepared to bring all originals of any documents submitted with the e-SAFE filing in case an officer asks to see them.

Once the applicant submits the biometrics portion, the application is complete and the system will forward the application to the Admissibility Review Office (ARO) for adjudication. The ARO will review the application to determine whether the applicant merits a non-immigrant waiver under the Matter of Hranka standards. This can take 4-5 months to process. The applicant is able to track the status of the waiver application through their e-SAFE portal.

If and when the waiver is approved, the applicant may use the waiver to travel to the U.S. in any of the visa-exempt categories, such as B1/B2 visitor, F1 student, L, H1B, etc. (Canadians do need a visa for E categories).

Related posts:

FAQ on US Entry Waiver.

What is a 212(d)(3) Waiver?

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