Beginner’s Guide to Post-Conviction Travel to Canada

We know that navigating the Canadian immigration system with a conviction can be confusing- there are a myriad of forms, fees, and regulations that can seem impossible to understand. That’s why we’ve decided to answer the most basic, common questions that we get from our clients. Hopefully this can shed light on some of your areas of concern. Everything you need to know before you reach the border.

If you have committed a crime that makes you inadmissible, such as driving under the influence, assault, or theft (full list below), then you likely need a “Criminal Rehabilitation” or “Temporary Residence Permit” to be able to enter the country, whether you are entering by land, sea or air. Here is a list of the most commonly asked questions about this process, and the steps that you should complete before attempting to cross the border.

What crimes make me inadmissible?

Here is a list of the crimes that will make you inadmissible to Canada (this list is not exhaustive and is a compilation of the majority of cases we see/hear about).

  • DUI (including DWI, DWAI, reckless driving, etc.)
  • theft
  • drug trafficking
  • drug possession
  • weapons violations
  • assault
  • probation violations
  • domestic violence
  • fraud
  • vehicular manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary)
  • possession of stolen property
  • arson
  • embezzlement
  • drug manufacturing or cultivation
  • aggravated assault
  • child abandonment
  • property crimes
  • robbery
  • indecent exposure
  • failure to appear
  • hit and run
  • credit card fraud
  • prostitution
  • money laundering
  • sexual assault
  • disorderly conduct
  • child abuse
  • identity theft
  • conspiracy
  • stalking
  • wire fraud
  • battery
  • cyber bullying
  • racketeering (RICO)
  • burglary
  • white collar crimes
  • resisting an officer (resisting arrest)
  • soliciation
  • extortion
  • child pornography
  • insurance fraud
  • breaking and entering
  • shoplifting
  • securities fraud
  • aiding & abetting
  • homicide
  • vandalism
  • careless driving
  • motor-vehicle theft
  • kidnapping
  • tax evasion
  • harassment
  • aggravated battery
  • telemarketing fraud
  • battery
  • evading arrest
  • rape
  • larceny
  • bribery
  • computer crimes
  • hate crimes
  • forgery
  • obstruction of justice
  • What is the difference between a Temporary Residence Permit and a Criminal Rehabilitation?
    • A Criminal Rehabilitation, if accepted, waives your inadmissibility to Canada permanently. Therefore, if you are eligible for a Criminal Rehabilitation, it is advised that you apply for it as well as a Temporary Residence Permit, since the Criminal Rehabilitation offers a permanent solution, while the Temporary Residence Permit only offers a temporary one.

A Temporary Resident Permit is not permanent, and only extends to a granted, specific, period of time. A Temporary Residence Permit restricts the length of your stay, and makes you subject to various conditions, such as not being allowed to work or study without a work or study permit, not allowed to re-enter Canada, and being forced to leave immediately after your authorized stay.

  • I committed a DUI, but it was over 10 years ago, do I still need a Temporary Residence Permit?
    • Yes. If you committed a DUI over 10 years ago, you are technically deemed rehabilitated, but it is ultimately up to the discretion of the border officer whether or not you are refused. It is always safer to have a completed Temporary Residence Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation with you at the border. Also, it is important to note that if you were convicted of a DUI after December 2018, your DUI is now considered a serious crime in Canada and will never expire. 
  • I committed a different crime (not a DUI) that makes me inadmissible, but it was over 10 years ago, do I still need a permit?
    • Yes. If you have committed some offences over 10 years ago, you are technically automatically deemed rehabilitated. However, it is ultimately up to the discretion of the border officer whether or not you are refused. It is always safer to have a completed Temporary Residence Permit with you at the border.
  • How does Canada know that I have committed a crime?
    • Whenever anyone is arrested and fingerprinted, a criminal record is created, which can be accessed at the Canadian border, where there is no presumption of innocence.
  • What if I was only arrested and not convicted?
    • You will need to provide evidence that the charges were dropped or that the relevant charges did not result in a conviction. If you don’t, the border officer can still see your arrest records and will not presume that you were innocent of the crime.
  • How do I complete a Temporary Residence Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation?
    • You have to provide your criminal background and court records and photo government identification documents (preferably a passport). You must also provide an account of the circumstances of the crime you committed, a personal reflection on how you have rehabilitated, and proof that your reason for traveling to Canada is legitimate.
  • What counts as a legitimate reason to enter Canada?
    • This is up to the discretion of the border official. However, normally leisure requests are not granted. Work related travel and travel for significant personal events (weddings, funerals, etc.) are more likely to be accepted as valid. 
  • What if I was convicted of the crime as a minor?
    • This will not impact your admissibility. 
  • How much does it cost to submit an application on my own?
    • The processing fee depends on what is on your record – for regular criminality like DUI the processing fee is $200 CAD.  For more serious offences the fee is $1000 CAD – those offences include drug trafficking, financial crimes over $5000, anything involving weapons, minors or sexual offences.
  • How long does the process take?
    • Around 4 months for a Temporary Residence Permit and 12 months for a Criminal Rehabilitation
  • If my application gets rejected, is there an appeal process?
    • There is no appeal process – if you are denied entry you can try to procide additional evidence/proof of your rehabilitation and re-apply
  • What if my Criminal Rehabilitation is rejected but my Temporary Residence Permit is accepted?
    • This is completely ok for your upcoming trip. But, depending on the conditions of your Temporary Residence Permit, you may have to apply again for future visits.

If you are planning a visit to Canada and you are still unsure about whether or not you need to complete a Temporary Residence Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation, contact FW Canada for a free consultation.

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