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character reference letters

append delete Annette

On the checklist of required documents, I see nothing about character reference letters. But I think they could be beneficial to the application process. Any thoughts or experiences with this? And would you recommend letters from family or friends? Or employer? also, has anyone had employment repercussions after requesting letter from employer?
Btw, my criminal record is from 1986. And I've had same employer for 25+ years. I don't know if he is aware of my past, am hesitant to tell him, but also feel he would write me and excellent reference letter. Really torn on what to do...
Thanks in advance

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append delete #1. charleyinsudbury

@Annette I'm on my 3rd waiver (expires next summer) and never included a character reference.

I'm sure it couldn't hurt but given how long ago your conviction was and you've maintained a steady job for 25+ years I would guess it's not necessary.

BTW - my last conviction was also from 1986 (auto theft).

append delete #2. fcbp

@annette... I did not include reference letters.

Last conviction was 16 years ago.

append delete #3. carol

I helped my husband, he used 3 reference letters and one from his employer. The one from the employer can be in the same format as if getting a mortgage or large loan. My husband's convictions are over 25 years old.

append delete #4. OutWest

I was on my 4th waiver and, at least at the Sumas border crossing in B.C., they required 2 character reference letters from non family members. I had never had this requirement before and they wouldn't even look at/accept my application (renewal) until I had those letters. I'm just hoping they drop this requirement as it's a bit of pain having to have friends, co-workers to do up these letters (especially if you have 1+ waivers approved already!)

append delete #5. moontan

I 192 Waivewr check list with (Rev. 02/19/2014) requires 3 Reference letters , NO relatives!

append delete #6. chino

For those who have gone through a renewal, did you need to find new references? Or were you able to polish, redate and resign the same letters with the same references?

append delete #7. 3legit2quit

For my renewal I used copies of my old reference letters.

append delete #8. Goku

What are people suppose to write in the character reference letter ?

Someone has an example ?

append delete #9. Figman

@Goku
Just need two people not related to you who will say they have known you for more than 2 years. Ideally if you have traveled with buddies to the US (or any other country) get them to say that you have always observed the laws of the country you travelled in. I write the letters and just get them to sign. Your friends don't need to know the details, just tell them you are applying for a Visa or a Nexus. In 22 years of successfully applying and reapplying the ARO have never contacted my references.

append delete #10. Cowtown

Just got told at the airport Border Services in Calgary, that I need three character letters. This is my third waiver for a 29 year old marijuana conviction. I also considered rerunning an old reference letter, but I don't know if they keep them on file.

append delete #11. JOHN ROGERS

Calgary has it wrong, but just get three done so they take the waiver. Its officially 2 waivers.

For those who "have never done them" and got away with it, when you apply again, if they give you a 1 year waiver instead of a 5, your going to feel pretty stupid. With the fee going up to $930 eventually, imagine if you got a 1 year, re-applied and then had to pay $930? Expensive way to learn a lesson.

This isn't about 'cutting corners'. You have saved money by doing the waiver yourself, why would you further tempt fate by not giving any letters? What if Homeland Security refuses to take the waiver?

I have a client coming off 2 5 year waivers, but would not do a drug test. (has a drug conviction form the 80's) She ended up with a 1 year waiver, and as i explained to her, do NOT CUT CORNERS.

Remember, no matter where you hand your waiver in, it ends up in Virginia. Unfortunately, different ports handle the waiver differently.

append delete #12. jazzsax

John - does more than 2 strengthen your packet? ie.... if say I had 10 letters from 10 clients all saying how glowing and wonderful I am now (and that they know about my fraud conviction and I am so amazing now... LOL) --- does that make things better?

Why would one NOT want to include more letters?

append delete #13. JOHN ROGERS

Jazzsax I don't think for the majority of people having 2 or 10 will make a difference. Its extra paper and documents.

If you are borderline and have SINCERE letters that talk about how they knew you BEFORE you did something wrong and they see a "change" in you the last 10 years, thats going to help.

Remember clients are people that PAY you, so their 'opinions' are viewed as not being as sincere as your neighbor or someone who you do not have a financial relationship with. Clients ask me for reference letters and I tell them a reference letter from someone you do business with is useless in my view. They are being nice to keep their business relationship intact.

That being said, most male clients would never hand in the waiver if i told them to even get 4 reference letters. LOL If they are a slam dunk already, the extra work and paper is a waste and makes more work form Homeland Security to wade though.

append delete #14. jazzsax

I guess I'm thinking more from this point of view...

I'm an accountant by trade. With a fraud conviction. Still working in accounting, with many clients who know about the conviction but were willing to look past it and give me a chance. They've seen me be overly transparent while the whole process has gone on, and have trusted me to do their work given the circumstances. I've had to rebuild from scratch.

By default you would think I wouldn't be working in the same field, let alone have clients willing to trust me. That's why I was thinking these might help as they would show that not only do these clients (a long list) know what happened, they've been willing to give me a second chance, and seen that over a few years the incident that happened was a mistake, and is not the "me" now.

Make sense?

append delete #15. JOHN ROGERS

Jazzsax, it makes SENSE, yes. The problem is that I don't think a person at Homeland Security who does waiver after waiver after waiver puts as much thought into this unless its a really 'borderline' case. There isn't a panel of 3 people who will be swayed by your letters. It starts with one person who simply makes a decision based on criteria and what they see. And the biggest factor still boils down to "what did you do wrong and when did it happen?"

I had a client who was a mother who was living in the United States with 3 kids. Illegally. Came back to Canada to see sick relative. On the way back to the US they searched her and found a US drivers license. She confessed she lived illegally in the United States. Denied entry and given a ban.

Now what could be more compelling than being torn away from your kids? Very respected in the community, letters up the ying yang. But I knew it was hopeless. I hate doing waivers like this because you almost convince yourself its going to work. And watching that poor woman cry when she was rejected was pretty heartbreaking.

Then she went and paid a US Immigration Lawyer $9 000 USD out of desperation, he assured her he would be able to get her in under "Humanitarian grounds". He prepared 3 inches of arguments and documents. Total waste of time. Then, "outraged" said he would appeal for $3000 more and win. She finally realized she was not going to get the result she wanted and gave up.

This is not TV. There are rules and criteria. Usually the approved waivers are not miracles or magic. They are just done properly. Through experience you know who will get the waiver and who won't.

append delete #16. jazzsax

Good to know John!

append delete #17. btcman

John Rogers. What if I don't keep in touch with ANYBODY from before I did the crime? I moved to the other side of the country and left that life behind. What should I do then?

append delete #18. btcman

only people I keep in touch with is family and cousin in laws... people married to my cousins. Will that work?

append delete #19. JOHN ROGERS

Reference letters should be NON relatives. Just friends. But remember that I was responding to jazzsax about reference letters and "why not" have more than 2. For most people, 2 simple reference letters from people who claim to have known you for over 5 years will suffice.

As he has pointed out, he is thinking of applying BEFORE he knows its a slam dunk, so is doing everything he can to ensure he has the best possible chance. For most people who have no ban, and are 5 years removed their their offence or whatever it is that they did, 2 normal letters will work.

I do write letters for some clients (not from me but from people they provide the information for) and I find for a lot of male clients, reference letters can be a major hassle. When I follow up with clients who have started the waiver but not completed it, its the biggest reason.

append delete #20. Michelle

It is interesting to see how each border has different requirements. Here in Saskatchewan, all border crossing require 3 reference letters, plus an employment letter or personal income tax. There are no exceptions..Your paperwork will be refused. Makes no difference if your are doing it on your own, hired someone, first time or renewal applicant. I have learned a lot on this site. Thanks!

append delete #21. JOHN ROGERS

The majority of my clients are in Ontario, I send all Quebec clients to a colleague there, and I do a lot in BC. Thats partially because for months a company out there put my toll free number on their emails. I would inform them I was a different company, and when they started asking questions they realized I was about half the price. (Its not anyone who posts on this board)

So i ended up with quite a few BC clients. For all of my clients i advise 2 letters of reference. For anyone in Saskatchewan (I have none) or Alberta (I have a couple) I will advise 3 to be on the safe side. Obviously Michelle would know better than I about those 2 provinces.

append delete #22. michelle

@John Rogers #21, Thanks, there does seem to be different rules for different provinces, which is interesting...why I like Pardons better...I really only deal with Saskatchewan and a few Manitoba residents, however, I do have clients who will deliver an application to Calgary or Edmonton International Airport, so I need to stay on top of those POE. It makes sense that people want to deal with local companies..

append delete #23. jazzsax

Is Calgary requiring copies of the court documents as well?

append delete #24. JOHN ROGERS

Michelle probably knows that airport better than me.

I have only sent 2 clients there in the in the past 12 months. Both were reapplications and neither had court documents. They also had very old convictions.

append delete #25. michelle

@jazzsax, #23, If you were my client and going to Calgary, I would make you take certified court documents, again this is just standard practice for my service, no matter where you are delivering your paperwork. I probably send my clients with more paperwork than necessary, but I absolutely hate when a client gets their paperwork rejected because of something I did...it hurts business and drives me nuts..LOL..if you do it yourself..then you are on your own..


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