Criminal Rehabilitation is a process that allows an individual with a past conviction to permanently overcome their criminal inadmissibility for the purpose of travel to Canada. Whether one is seeking entry to Canada for business, family, or vacation purposes, once approved the traveller can enter Canada indiscriminately and stay for up to six months at a time. To receive Criminal Rehabilitation, an offender must ask the Canadian government for permission to enter Canada. They must express remorse for their actions, as well as demonstrate how they have developed as a person and overcome their criminal behavior. Successful Criminal Rehabilitation applications will adequately prove that the individual does not pose a risk to Canadian society. For more details on the application procedure, see below.
When do I apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?
If you are inadmissible to Canada due to a past conviction on your criminal record, you may apply for Criminal Rehabilitation if at least five years have passed since the completion of your sentence(s). Sentencing includes payment of all fines, prison time, probation, and required community service hours. If less than five years have passed since the completion of your sentence, you are ineligible, however you may qualify for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). For more information on Criminal Rehabilitation eligibility and for information about Temporary Resident Permit eligibility, see our pages dedicated to those topics.
If you are eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, the next step is applying.
How much does it cost to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?
The processing fees for both Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation and a Temporary Resident Permit depends on the severity of the conviction. Processing fees for non-serious criminality is 200$ CAD, while the processing fees for an application involving serious criminality is 1000$ CAD.
For more information regarding what crime or offense constitutes serious versus non-serious criminality, see here.
What do I need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?
To apply for Criminal Rehabilitation Canada, you will need to prepare the application with the following documents and statements:
- An application form for Criminal Rehabilitation.
- One statement outlining the circumstances of your conviction(s).
- This statement is meant to give the offender the chance to explain the events leading up to the crime or offense they have committed. It is important for the applicant to show remorse and responsibility in the telling of their acts. If the reviewing officer feels that the applicant does not care about the consequences of their crime, they will not believe the applicant’s claim of rehabilitation and will deny entry.
- One statement addressing the applicant’s rehabilitation.
- The reviewing officer wants to see how the applicant rehabilitated themselves into suitable and appropriate conduct in society. It is the applicant’s chance to persuade the officer of their good behavior. It is advised for the applicant to mention any community involvement, social activities, and stability in their employment.
- A copy of the applicant’s passport.
- Letters of reference.
- It is advised to have friends and/or colleagues who have known you for a long time to write a letter of reference. A friend who has known the applicant for a long time will have a legitimate understanding of the person. The reviewing officer also looks favorably upon letters of reference from the applicant’s employer.
- Court documents for each of the convictions on your record.
- The most important court documents are those that clearly articulate the applicant’s specific crime as well as the completion of their sentence. If the reviewing officer is not sure whether the applicant completed their sentence, they will not approve their application.
- FBI Criminal History Report.
- This report is the criminal record that the reviewing officer will rely on the most. Often, a conviction on one’s criminal record may appear on the FBI report, but may not be present on the state clearances, or vice-versa.
- State Criminal History Reports.
- These are police reports indicating the criminal activity of any individual in a certain state. The applicant is required to provide one from every state in which he or she has lived since they turned 18 years old. This is also required for anyone applying for a Temporary Resident Permit at a consulate as well. As mentioned above, sometimes a conviction may be present on the state criminal record while not being on the FBI criminal record. Therefore, the government requests a copy of each.
Once all of these documents have been procured, and that the application form has been filled out, the application is ready to be sent.
Where do I send my application?
Once you have completed your application, you will send it to the Canadian Consulate in New York. Unlike a Temporary Resident Permit, a Criminal Rehabilitation application can only be processed at the Consulate and not at any port of entry. The contact information for the consulate can be found below:
Canadian Consulate in New York
1251 6th Ave
New York, NY 10020, USA
Open Monday-Friday: 9am-12am, 1pm-3pm.
Please note that the Canadian Consulate in New York processes Criminal Rehabilitation applications, while the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles is responsible for processing Temporary Resident Permits.
What is the Criminal Rehabilitation processing time?
The immigration officer assessing your application has the ultimate discretion over the application’s approval and subsequently whether you may enter Canada. The time it takes to come to a decision heavily depends on the complexity of your application, the documentation, and the severity of the conviction(s). This makes it very difficult to offer a meaningful projection of expected processing time. In order to expedite and facilitate the decision-making process of your immigration officer, it is important to be as detailed as possible. While the application procedure for both non-serious and serious criminality are the same, serious criminality will require a longer processing time than the former.
What if I was convicted of a criminal offense in Canada?
Criminal Rehabilitation is a solution for individuals who are inadmissible to Canada and therefore denied entry due to convictions and offenses that occurred outside of Canada. If you are looking to enter Canada but have also been convicted of offenses in Canada, you may also need to apply for a Canadian criminal record suspension in order to remove your criminal inadmissibility.
What if I only have one criminal conviction from a long time ago?
Individuals who have been convicted of only one crime outside of Canada may be Deemed Rehabilitated if ten years have passed since the date that their sentence was completed (including probation, prison time, the payment of fines or any suspensions). This means that they will no longer be considered criminally inadmissible, and can enter Canada without problems. Deemed Rehabilitation only applies if the single offense was not equivalent to a serious offense under Canadian law. If the maximum sentence for the equivalent offense in Canada is ten years or more, the offense is considered to be “serious criminality” and Deemed Rehabilitation does not apply. Therefore, the individual will remain criminally inadmissible and must undergo criminal rehabilitation if they wish to overcome their inadmissibility.
Deemed Rehabilitation also applies if an individual has two offences on their record that are considered to be very minor offences. In Canada, very minor offences are called summary offences. If an individual has been convicted of more than one offence, but all of the offences are equivalent to summary offences in Canada, they are criminally inadmissible and that individual will be Deemed Rehabilitated after five years of completion of sentencing.
If an individual has only one summary conviction on their record they are not criminally inadmissible to Canada. An indictable offence (a serious offence) or a hybrid offence (an offence that has the potential to be charged summarily or as an indictable offence) do not fall into this category. The vast majority of offences in the Canadian criminal code are hybrid offences, such as assault, DUI, and possession. Summary offences include possession of marijuana under 30g, public intoxication, and indecent exposure. If an individual has only one of these types of convictions, it will not result in inadmissibility.
For more information on Deemed Rehabilitation, see here.
How can an immigration lawyer help me?
Immigration lawyers are extremely familiar with criminal inadmissibility and the criminal justice system. Experienced Canada immigration lawyers can assist a foreign national applying for a Temporary Resident Permit, Criminal Rehabilitation, permanent resident status, and more. The assessment process for these applications is extensive and procuring the necessary documents is not simple. An immigration lawyer will review the court documents and help you determine whether your procured documents will prove to be satisfactory or if you need supplementary support. The expertise of an immigration lawyer will guide you in the completion of the application. They will guide you in drafting strong statements, as well as advise you in the ways to persuade the reviewing officer. A good lawyer will not guarantee the success of an application, but they will guarantee the submission of a complete application. Most importantly, hiring an immigration lawyer will give the applicant peace of mind.
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.