If you are looking for a service to handle your Canadian pardon or US entry waiver application for you take your time and look carefully because sometime around mid 2007 a lot of new companies popped up all claiming to be “Canada’s #1 Service”. Most of these are old paralegals trying to get into the pardon and waiver market but very few have any experience in preparing pardon or waiver applications.
Unfortunately it is clear that a number of these new services are in it for the money alone with very little concern for the client whose life often depends on the results of a successful application. You can see this from companies offering limited time specials that are not limited at all but are always available. It is the classic bait and hook technique common to sales based companies whose profits are the bottom line. I watch the industry regularly and I have never seen a true “limited time special”. The special is always available, at all times. Unfortunately, sales techniques like this often work because people fail to see the relationship between “cost” and “value”. Usually the sale is offset by the additional charges written in fine print.
If you would like to see the pardon and waiver industry’s number 1 scam click the link in the next paragraph. I can only hope no one is gullible enough to fall for this because the writer of this “website” could not even bother to do a spell and grammar check. If I didn’t think a few people actually fell for this I would find it quite amusing
Click here to view the pardon industry’s number one SCAM! Also note that another company is actually advertising on this site. I do not know if they are affiliated but I strongly advise not using either of these websites. The advertising company plagiarized my own company’s website (National Pardon Centre) quite obviously when they opened their doors recently.
All this being said every business must make money so don’t expect to find a company willing to handle your paperwork free of charge. The fact is you made a mistake and it is your responsibility to deal with it. But with a little research you should be able to find a service that is honest and that you feel comfortable dealing with.
The following is a short list of things to think about when looking for a reliable pardon and waiver service:
- Office location: Where is the office of the company you are dealing with located? And more importantly can you visit the office and speak with a counselor in person? A company that only does business over the phone or only by internet lacks credibility.
- Fingerprinting services: The first step in a pardon or waiver application is to have your fingerprints taken. This service is either provided by the police or by an authorized fingerprinting agency. Most pardon and waiver services will outsource this step because they are unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to obtain the credentials required to obtain fingerprints. Ask if they provide on-site fingerprinting. If not go somewhere else. Keep in mind that if you are processing an application through the mail you may have to go to your local police anyway, but the availability of this service is a good indicator of a company’s status.
- Additional charges: Also known as “disbursement charges” these are necessary fees payable to various government agencies (National Parole Board, Local Police, Courts, etc.). Some companies will include this in the fee schedule, some will not. This is not necessarily an indicator of the reliability of a company but it is something to look out for. Some companies that offer a service at an apparently low fee will be charging you extra as the application progresses. Ask in advance so you know what you are getting into.
- Application System: When you are applying online with a company look at the information they are asking you in the system. Is the applicatin page only concerned with your name and credit card information? Or is the company actually asking for details about your criminal record? Obviously a company that asks for no details about your criminal record is probably only out to sell you a service. Be careful with these ones.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that a pardon or waiver application can be handled entirely on your own. But contrary to what some people will tell you it is far more involved than simply filling in a few forms and submitting the application with a $50 cheque to the government. There are many fees payable to various places for a variety of reasons. And each application is unique so unless you know what you are doing you can’t really be sure you are doing it right.
And finally you are going to have to be patient because no matter what service you deal with Canadian pardons and US entry waivers cannot be completed overnight. Some pardons take a few months, but in general you should plan on things taking up to a year, depending on the details of your case of course.