Unlike three hundred years ago when to get to the USA or Canada would require a six month sea voyage during which you’d probably have to eat half the crew, things are much easier these days.
You buy a ticket, hop on a plane and you’re there by the time you’ve watched Meet The Fockers twice over.
The exception to things being this simple, as rapper Wiley has recently found out on a failed trip to Toronto, is if you’ve ever been arrested or have previous convictions.
This is because any arrest, even one not resulting in any charges, means you may no longer be eligible for a visa waiver and so will have to apply for a visa from an embassy.
Canada and the USA deal with previous arrests and convictions slightly differently but if you’ve any doubts over whether you may be considered ‘inadmissible’, you need to check with the immigration authorities before you go.
Not doing so may mean that as soon as you arrive, you’ll be turned straight back round and returned at your own expense.
To find out more about immigration to the US, you have to speak to a wizard (!) who will guide you through a set of simple questions to determine if you’ll need a visa or not.
The Canadian Government doesn’t appear to have a wizard (boo) but they do have a website that tells you a little more about their immigration criteria.
Previous arrests or convictions aren’t an automatic bar to travel and whilst the disruption to travel isn’t quite as inconvenient as being eaten during a crossing of the Atlantic, it’s much better to check visa requirements prior to booking rather than being turned away at customs when you land.