Consequences of Having a Youth Record

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A youth record can create problems for a youth, even after they become an adult. This section deals with travelling and getting a job if you have a youth record. It also provides some general information on what you can do to prepare yourself.

Travelling With a Youth Record

Having a youth record can limit travel opportunities. For example, you may be unable to get a travel visa or denied access to a country by a border official.

Most countries have laws restricting entry by someone with a record. Some countries, like the United States, have very strict laws, especially about drugs. They may deny entry, even for a visit, to someone who has a record for a drug offence. For many offences, it is up to the individual border guard whether a person gets in or not. One border guard might let you in, another may not. If your youth record has been shared with the United States, you never know if you might be refused entry at the U.S. border.

Once American officials have someone’s youth record in their files, it will likely remain there, regardless of whether it has been closed in Canada or how old it is. Only in Canada does the law say that a youth record has to be closed after a certain period of time, and other countries do not have to obey Canadian laws.

A youth record may show up when you apply for a travel, study or work visa. Some countries will not process a visa for someone that has a youth record. Each country has their own rules Canadian laws do not apply. If a young person has a record for an offence they committed while they were under 18, it will be kept by the RCMP until it is time to close it.

Whether you have an open or closed youth record, you should speak to a lawyer who has experience in youth criminal law before making travel plans to other countries.

Tips for Young Persons Travelling Outside Canada

  • Avoid travelling to other countries while your Youth Record is open. Other countries will check RCMP files if you try to enter as a visitor or as an immigrant. Avoid traveling to other countries until you know your Youth Record has been closed. Find out how long your record is expected to last and make sure the RCMP has destroyed your file before you travel.
  • Do not try to sneak into another country. If you must travel to another country before your record is closed, you should not try to sneak past the border checkpoint. If you are caught, you will not be allowed in, either then or in the future. Do not lie if the authorities ask if you have a record.
  • Apply for an Entry Waiver before you leave. If your Youth Record is still open, find out whether you can get an entry waiver, for example, for the United States. Most waivers are for limited purposes and time periods, but in some cases, you can get a permanent waiver. There are forms to fill out requiring lots of information, including about your record. It can take a long time to get a waiver, so apply early and be prepared for the fact that your application may be denied.

There may be other things you can do before you leave. Contact a lawyer for advice. If you are completing entry waivers, be sure to ask a lawyer for help with the application.\

Getting a Job with a Youth Record

A youth record can make it harder for a young person to get a job at the beginning of their working life. This is sometimes a long-term problem because early work experience is useful when applying for more desirable jobs later on.

Volunteer positions are good ways to get work experience but having a youth record might also prevent you from getting a volunteer position. When you apply for a job, an employer may ask you if you have a youth record. If you lie and the employer finds out, they may choose to hire someone else. An employer can also ask you for a police record check. You are entitled to refuse, but if you do, the employer might think you have something to hide and choose to hire someone else.

With the exception of a government employer, the police will not give employers information about a youth record - even if you give your permission. If you ask the police for a copy of your youth record, they will give it to you. Employers faced with the knowledge that you have a youth record may decide not to hire you. Employers can also decide not to hire you for certain positions because of the type of crime committed. For example, if you stole something, you might not be hired as a cashier.

If your record has been closed, or if you had been found guilty of an offence that is not connected to the job, nobody can fire you, refuse to hire you or put you at a disadvantage because of your record.

However, an employer can fire you and give a different reason. For example, they can say you do not have the qualifications and skills required for the job. In such cases, it might be difficult to prove you were fired solely because of your record.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence Consequences of a Youth Record © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.