Are You Criminally Inadmissible to Canada?


After being convicted of a crime, many individuals find that their criminal record results in inadmissibility to Canada, preventing travelling to Canada for business or pleasure.

While being deemed inadmissible does not leave a person without options for entering Canada, assessing those options and determining which course of action is most appropriate can be overwhelming.

Temporary Resident Permits, Criminal Rehabilitation, and Record Suspensions are among the options commonly used by individuals with a criminal record to gain entry into Canada. All three of these processes, completed through applications to the Canadian government, can temporarily or permanently resolve criminal inadmissibility and help individuals gain access to Canada. Each of these processes provide an opportunity for individuals with criminal records to enter Canada, but each solution is applicable in a different situation.

Temporary Resident Permit

For individuals who have been convicted of a crime outside of Canada, and if less than five years have passed from the completion of the entire sentence for the offence, a Temporary Resident Permit will be necessary for entry into Canada. A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is the only one of the three options that is only a temporary solution. While Criminal Rehabilitation and Record Suspensions will permanently resolve inadmissibility issues, a TRP only permits entry into Canada for the period specified on the permit, and will not permanently resolve inadmissibility to Canada.

A TRP is granted for a specific period time and for a specific reason, and applicants are required to provide a compelling reason for their need to enter Canada in order to be granted a TRP. The reasons provided that have the highest success rates tend to be related to business travel or family emergencies.

Unlike Criminal Rehabilitation and Record Suspensions, a Temporary Resident Permit can be assessed and processed at the Canadian border or port of entry, allowing for an immediate answer regarding the applicant’s eligibility to enter Canada.

Criminal Rehabilitation

If a person has been convicted of a crime outside of Canada, and more than five years have passed since the completion of the entirety of their sentence, they are eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. Criminal Rehabilitation is a better solution than a TRP because it permanently resolves inadmissibility to Canada.

For a Criminal Rehabilitation application to be approved, individuals must explain in detail the circumstances of the crime and the events that led up to their conviction, demonstrating that their convictions are isolated events and not a pattern of crime. Applicants must also detail why they consider themselves to be rehabilitated and convince the immigration officer reading their application that they are not a threat to Canadian society and are not at risk of reoffending. If Criminal Rehabilitation is granted, the inadmissibility will be permanently resolved and the individual will be able to travel freely to Canada from that point on, provided they are not convicted of any other crimes.

Record Suspension

Record suspension is similar to the Criminal Rehabilitation process in many ways, but is only for individuals who were convicted of crimes in Canada. Like Criminal Rehabilitation, a Record Suspension is a permanent solution and requires the applicant to clearly describe how a record suspension would provide them with a measurable benefit and how it would sustain their rehabilitation into society as a law abiding citizen.

While this process won’t erase your Canadian criminal record, it will set the offense aside and restore your admissibility to Canada for that offense. A Canadian Record Suspension will not resolve criminal inadmissibility for any criminal convictions from the United States or any other country. Any person who was convicted of a crime in Canada is eligible, although some sex offense convictions are ineligible.

Like Criminal Rehabilitation, a waiting period is required before an individual is eligible for a Record Suspension. Individuals convicted of summary offenses are required to wait 5 years after the completion of their sentence to apply for a Record Suspension, and individuals convicted of an indictable offense are required to wait 10 years before applying.

Deemed Rehabilitation

If you only have one conviction that meets certain conditions, Canada entry is possible if more than 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence. In this case, you may not require a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation, as you may be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time.

Legal Opinion Letter

If you have been charged with a crime but not convicted, you are not required to go through any formal process to enter Canada. However, we always recommend that a person with a charge that appears on their criminal record have the charge explained with a legal opinion letter. The purpose of this letter is to explain why under Canadian immigration law you are not criminally inadmissible to Canada. This applies to those who have been deemed rehabilitated as well.

Temporary Resident Permits, Criminal Rehabilitation, and Record Suspensions all have one important characteristic in common: they grant entry to Canada for previously inadmissible individuals. Although each application process is used in a different situation, there are a number of scenarios where a person could submit applications for more than one of these processes in combination with another, or even all three at once.

For example, an individual who has been convicted of crimes in both Canada and the United States could apply for a record suspension for their Canadian convictions and criminal rehabilitation for their American convictions, and could also require a Temporary Resident Permit in order to enter Canada while their applications to permanently resolve their admissibility are being processed by the Canadian government.

To learn more about which of these admissibility processes best fits your situation and how we can help you gain entry into Canada, contact FWCanada for more information and a free assessment.

Why hire a Canadian immigration lawyer?

Whether or not you are granted entry to Canada when you are inadmissible for criminal reasons is up to the discretion of the Canadian immigration officer who assesses your application. An experienced Canadian immigration lawyer can assist you in preparing the appropriate application and recommend strategies that will increase your chances of entering Canada successfully. Unlike other Canadian immigration processes, the government does not facilitate these applications and your interests will be best served with the assistance of a Canadian immigration lawyer.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on FacebookTwitter, and Linkedin.