How To Enter Canada With A Criminal Record

Criminal rehabilitation serves as an application process that requests absolution from the Government of Canada for a crime(s) committed in a foreign country. This application process is necessary for those who are criminally inadmissible to Canada, which means that they are not allowed to enter Canada without special authorization from Canada. This absolution gives the applicant a clean slate once the individual successfully completes it. There are three criteria in order to be eligible for criminal rehabilitation:

  1. One must have committed an act outside of Canada that would constitute an offence under a Federal statute.
  2. One must have been convicted of, or admitted to committing the act.
  3. One must have had 5 years passed since all sentences have been completed, including jail, fines and probation.

The process for Non-Serious and Serious Criminality applications are the same, except in the price and duration of the process, in which the latter is more expensive and longer. Nevertheless, one must be criminally inadmissible in order to apply for this application.


Criminal Inadmissibility

After being convicted of a crime, a person’s criminal record makes them inadmissible to Canada, which prevents them from travelling to Canada. The inadmissible person has options, however, in order to enter Canada. Criminal rehabilitation is one of them, however, a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is another.

Temporary Resident Permit

A TRP is the only application procedure for an applicant who has been convicted of a crime outside of Canada, if less than five years have passed from the completion of the sentence or offence. A TRP is granted for a specific period of time and for a specific reason, which the applicant must provide. The most successful reasons are those pertaining to business travel and family emergencies. This application can be assessed and processed at the Canadian border or any point of entry, which would give the applicant immediate eligibility to enter Canada for the given amount of time. A TRP is only temporary, thus not a long-term solution for criminal inadmissibility. Criminal Rehabilitation is the long-term solution to criminal inadmissibility, and an applicant can be deemed rehabilitated automatically without any application process through Deemed Rehabilitation.

Deemed Rehabilitation

Two criteria exist for Deemed Rehabilitation:

  1. One must have only one conviction that was considered a non-serious offence.
  2. More than 10 years must have passed since the completion of the sentence.

If these two criteria are met, one is automatically not considered inadmissible to enter Canada. No TRP or criminal rehabilitation is necessary, and one can enter Canada. However, determining whether one has committed a non-serious or serious offence might not be so clear.

Non-Serious Criminality

In order to determine if you meet the criteria for Deemed Rehabilitation, one must know whether they committed a Non-Serious offence. Non-Serious offences follow as such:

  1. Any offence under a Federal Statute that is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of less than 10 years.
  2. For example: theft under $5,000.00, simple assault, fraud under $5,000.00.

In the case that one meets the criteria for a Non-Serious offence, as well as 10 years have passed since the completion of their sentence, one is automatically admissible to Canada by means of Deemed Rehabilitation. This person does not need to apply for any application process.  However, if 10 years have not passed since the completion of their sentence, they are eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, only if 5 years has passed from the completion of their sentence. Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation does not take much time, as the processing time is relatively short, as well as the fees are considerably less ($200 CAD).

Serious Criminality

Serious offences follow as such:

  1. Any offence with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more.
  2. For example: offences involving bodily injury and/or use of a weapon, DUI or dangerous driving offences (as of December 2018)

If one meets these criteria, one is never admissible on the grounds of Deemed Rehabilitation. However, Criminal Rehabilitation is still an option. The application procedure is the same for Non-Serious and Serious offences. What differs is the manner in which the application is processed at the Canadian visa office. The processing fees are $1000 CAD, and the processing time is longer, as they are left to the discretion of the Canadian Immigration officer assigned to the file.

Steps to Criminal Admissibility

There are two main steps in the application for Criminal Admissibility:

  1. The firsts step is to determine the equivalence of the criminal offence under the Canadian Criminal Code, and then determine whether they are regarded as Non-Serious or Serious offences, as mentioned and explained above.
  2. The second step is to demonstrate the stability of the person and of their lifestyle, in order to exhibit the fact that there is no risk that they might commit another crime. Good ways to do so is to demonstrate the professional ties and community involvement of the applicant. This is the most important detail in the eyes of the officer, for they must be certain that the applicant will not reoffend in the future.

On the application, the applicant will have to provide information about their criminal and employment history, such as the number of offences on their record, as well as the nature or the offence (non-serious or serious), and the amount of time passed. Nevertheless, additional information in certain sections is what makes or breaks the application process in convincing the officer of their rehabilitation. Notably, two sections persuade and give the most leeway on the officer.

Circumstances of the Crime

Though this is a required document in the application process, this document explaining the circumstances of the crime and events helps the officer make their decisions. The applicant has the chance to explain their actions and any factors leading up to their actions. The applicant should also use this as a way to show that their crime was an isolated event, instead of a pattern of behaviour. They should also show their motives behind their act, as well as any cooperation with law enforcement, and accepting the responsibility of their action.

Documents Showing or Explaining their Rehabilitation

This document allows for the applicant to show that they consider themselves to be rehabilitated, which is necessary in order to convince the officer that the applicant will not be a threat to Canadian society. This can be demonstrated by detailing their participation in anger management programs, new social or vocational skills, and showing stable living arrangements. Showing stable employment, or stable recent employment, and other professional ties is highly encouraged, as well as showing involvement in social groups or community service initiatives. Furthermore, including documents showing the completion of drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs are also beneficial documents.

In the entirety of the application, as well as in any additional documents, it is important to be as detailed as possible, since the approval or refusal of the application is left entirely to the immigration officer.

Hiring a Canadian Immigration Lawyer

Hiring a Canadian immigration lawyer puts the odds in the applicant’s favour. They will be able to advise you as well as assist you in completing the application. They will also have experience in dealing with your kind of case, thus well advising you on specific information that might be needed. All-in-all, hiring a Canadian immigration law firm will increase your chances of having a successful application & getting into Canada.

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.