Case Study: Post-conviction travel during COVID-19 Canadian border restrictions

The Canadian government has closed its borders with few exceptions and has not made it clear whether those who fall into the exceptions but have a prior conviction may be granted entry to Canada. This case provides some insight into navigating this grey-area. The case involves an individual who had several prior convictions, but whose wife is a healthcare worker serving a crucial role in combating the COVID-19 epidemic in Canada. Our client’s wife holds an executive role in a hospital and is instrumental in assisting pandemic response efforts. Because of this, she will not be able to leave Canada for the next twelve months. Our client contacted us to help him get a multi-entry temporary resident permit which would allow him to periodically visit his wife throughout the upcoming year. The COVID-19 situation in Canada, much like the rest of the world, is demanding an incredible amount of resources and attention. A letter from the President of the hospital system which employs our client’s wife specifically outlined that she was an essential personnel who should not be allowed to leave the country. In light of this, we requested that our client receive an expedited temporary resident permit so he could be with his wife who cannot leave her crucial position. Our client has three offences on his record: two convictions of assault in 1996 and 2007, and one conviction of criminal impersonation (considered as identity theft in Canadian law) in 2008.The Canadian government has outlined a set of offences which make an individual inadmissible to Canada on the grounds that they pose a potential threat to the country, or, put simply, that the cost of their admittance outweighs the benefit. All three convictions on our client’s record would make him inadmissible, and he would need to show in his application for temporary residence that he has successfully rehabilitated and that his reasons for entering Canada are legitimate. In these circumstances however, the pandemic has raised the bar for granting admission to special exceptions. It was important to underscore not only our client’s personal rehabilitation and clean record for over a decade, but also the importance of allowing our client to be with his spouse, who cannot leave Canada, in the difficult months ahead. In light of these factors, Canadian government ultimately granted permission for our client to be admitted to Canada.