Crimes That Will Make You Inadmissible to Canada

Published on: January 18th, 2024

If you have a criminal record and are planning to come to Canada, it is important to understand the types of crimes that will make you inadmissible.  

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Being inadmissible essentially means that you are not allowed to enter Canada. Criminal inadmissibility is one of the most common reasons someone may be unable to enter the country.

Under Canada’s immigration law, individuals may be deemed criminally inadmissible if they have committed or been convicted of various offences, ranging from minor infractions to serious crimes. The spectrum of crimes that render individuals inadmissible is broad, encompassing a range of activities that pose a threat to public safety, and national security, or violate fundamental principles of justice.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense under Canadian immigration law, as it poses a significant risk to public safety. This includes both minor and serious crimes, making it essential for individuals to be aware of the potential consequences of their actions. If convicted of a crime, individuals may find themselves barred from entering Canada.

Participating in organized crime, including membership in an organization engaged in criminal activities such as people smuggling or money laundering, is also a factor that renders an individual inadmissible. Theft, breaking and entering, arson, counterfeiting, unlawfully causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, discharge of a firearm with intent to wound, and motor vehicle offenses causing death are other criminal activities that may result in inadmissibility.

Espionage, subversion (attempts to overthrow a government), violence, terrorism, and membership in organizations involved in human or international rights violations, war crimes, or crimes against humanity are among the grave offenses that lead to criminal inadmissibility. Additionally, being a senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions is grounds for denial of entry.


It is important to note that if a crime was committed when an individual was under the age of 18, there may be certain allowances for entry into Canada. However, this is subject to the specifics of the case and the nature of the offence. Aspiring travellers are encouraged to review the Criminal Code of Canada and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for a comprehensive list of criminal offences.


Canada places a high priority on ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens and residents. As such, the immigration system is designed to prevent the entry of individuals whose actions or affiliations pose a threat to the country’s values and security.



To determine whether your criminal charge may render you inadmissible, it is helpful to understand the types of convictions in Canada.

Classifying Offenses: Exploring the Three Categories under the Criminal Code of Canada

Offenses under the Criminal Code of Canada will fall under one of three categories: summary, indictable, or hybrid.

Straight summary offenses are usually considered the least serious of the three in terms of both the crime and the penalty. Straight indictable offenses, on the other hand, are for more serious crimes with more severe sentences. A hybrid offense is an offense where the prosecutor can decide whether it will be processed “summarily” or “by indictment” based on the seriousness of the actions of the accused.

It is important to note that a foreign national does not need to have committed a crime in Canada to be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Immigration and border officers determine the Canadian equivalent of any criminal offense committed abroad to decide whether an individual is criminally inadmissible to Canada.

Indictable offense – crimes that will make you inadmissible to Canada

An indictable offense will always result in criminal inadmissibility to Canada. Examples of indictable offenses include:

  • Theft over $5,000 CAD
  • Breaking and entering
  • Arson
  • Counterfeiting
  • Unlawfully causing bodily harm
  • Criminal negligence causing bodily harm
  • Discharge firearm with intent to wound
  • Motor vehicle offense causing death

Hybrid offense – crimes that could make you inadmissible to Canada

When categorizing a foreign national’s offense, border or immigration officers will consider a hybrid offense to be indictable. Some examples of hybrid offenses that could result in being criminally inadmissible to Canada include:

  • Reckless driving
  • Simple assault
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while impaired (DWI)

Charges of driving under the influence are a common reason for a foreign national to be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Even if your DUI conviction occurred several years ago, it can still affect your ability to enter Canada. However, if you have a DUI conviction, there are still options to come to Canada.

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How can I overcome my criminal inadmissibility?

The options available to overcome your criminal inadmissibility will depend on when and where the crime was committed, and the severity of the offense.

If you were convicted of a crime outside of Canada, you must be considered rehabilitated to be admissible. You may be eligible to apply for rehabilitation if more than five years have passed since the end of the sentence imposed for a crime committed outside of Canada. If more than ten years have passed since completing your sentence, you may be already deemed rehabilitated.

For driving-related offenses, if your license is taken away as part of your sentence, the five-year period must start after your driving prohibition ends.


Unsure whether your crime will make you inadmissible to Canada? Contact us today to discuss your admissibility to Canada, and how can help you overcome a criminal charge.

Contact us to discuss your admissibility to Canada

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