Canada immigrationcriminal inadmissibilitycriminal rehabilitationtemporary resident permitTRP

What To Do If You’re Criminally Inadmissible to Canada

Published on: January 29th, 2018

Many visitors to Canada are surprised to find that a minor criminal offense, such as driving under the influence (DUI), can result in being refused entry into the country. This is called ‘criminal inadmissibility’. Whether you’re planning a short trip to visit or to immigrate permanently, it’s important to understand what criminal inadmissibility is and what you can do about it if you’re found inadmissible.


What counts as criminal inadmissibility?

Generally, temporary residents and applicants applying for Canadian permanent residence will be considered criminally inadmissible if the person:

  • Was convicted of an offence in Canada;
  • Was convicted of an offence outside of Canada that is considered a crime in Canada; or
  • Committed an act outside of Canada that is considered a crime under the laws of the country where it occurred and would be punishable under Canadian law.

Foreign nationals from countries that require a visa to enter Canada must complete an application in advance for a visa or permit, at which point any criminal history may be revealed.

Foreign nationals from countries that don’t require a visa to enter Canada will be admitted to the country at the discretion of a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at a Port of Entry (POE). As many countries share information such as criminal convictions for national security reasons, it is highly possible that a CBSA officer will deny entry to those who are criminally inadmissible.

Canadian permanent residence applicants must obtain police clearance certificates from every countries in which they have resided for 6 months or more. As well, all permanent resident applications are asked to disclose any convictions, sentences, detentions, and arrests in their application and may be asked to provide further details at the discretion of the officer assessing the application.

If a person is deemed criminally inadmissible when attempting to enter Canada or applying for Canadian permanent residence, they will be denied. However, it may be possible to overcome criminal inadmissibility.

Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility: Criminal Rehabilitation

Foreign nationals who are criminally inadmissible to Canada may overcome this inadmissibility by becoming criminally rehabilitated.

Rehabilitation demonstrates that a person leads a stable lifestyle and is unlikely to be involved in further criminal activity. There are two methods to be successfully rehabilitated:

  • Officially applying for rehabilitation.
  • A person may be automatically deemed rehabilitated if at least 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentence or since the offence was committed, if the offence is one that would result in a maximum 10 year sentence by Canadian law.

Note: Convictions and offences occurring within Canada may not be addressed through criminal rehabilitation. Criminal inadmissibility in this category may only be achieved by seeking a record suspension from the Parole Board of Canada.

Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation

If you are found to be criminally inadmissible to Canada, you may be able to apply for criminal rehabilitation.

To achieve rehabilitation, at least five years must have passed since the completion of your sentence. If you were not sentenced, five years must have passed since the date of the offence. For example, if your driver’s license was suspended following a DUI charge, you must wait until five years after the date your license was restored before you can apply for rehabilitation.

The application procedure for criminal rehabilitation requires completion of several forms, which you can find on the IRCC website. You will also be required to proved court documentation for your offence(s), evidence of rehabilitation, and police clearance certificates. Processing for criminal rehabilitation can take up to 24 months, so you should apply well in advance of any planned trips to Canada.

If fewer than five years have passed since the completion of your sentence, you may still be able to overcome criminal inadmissibility by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP).

Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility: Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

If a foreign national has been deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada, but they are not yet eligible to apply for rehabilitation, they may request special permission to enter Canada. This special permission comes in the form of a temporary resident permit (TRP) which authorizes a criminally inadmissible person to enter Canada for specific periods of time.

Note: A TRP is different from a temporary resident visa (TRV). Every temporary resident of Canada, whether they are coming as a visitor, student, or worker, requires a TRV to enter Canada, unless they are visa-exempt. Only foreign nationals who are criminally inadmissible require a TRP.

For Canadian immigration purposes, a visa is a travel document that allows you to enter Canada. A permit, on the other hand, is an immigration document that gives foreign nationals legal status to participate in certain activities while in Canada. A TRP allows criminally inadmissible foreign nationals to visit Canada for short periods of time.

Applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

There are no strict eligibility requirements to apply for a TRP. However, TRPs for individuals deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada are issued on a highly discretionary basis. This means that the immigration officer assessing a TRP application will make the decision based on their own opinion. In order to satisfy the officer, a TRP applicant must demonstrate:

  • A valid reason (or reasons) to be in Canada;
  • That the need to enter or stay in Canada outweighs the health or safety risks to Canadian society.

If you are visa-exempt, you may apply for a TRP through the visa office responsible for your country or region. Each visa office may have its own application procedure.

If you require a visa to enter Canada, you can include supporting documents to explain why you are inadmissible and why it may be justified for you to enter Canada along with your application for a temporary resident visa (TRV).

To find out about your own eligibility for Canadian immigration, simply complete a free online assessment and a member of Canadim’s legal team will contact you to discuss your options.



The Canadim Team!

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