Having committed a crime, whether it resulted in an actual conviction or not, can have far-reaching, and often unforeseen consequences. Among these is the impact past criminal actions may have on an individual’s ability to travel to Canada. Regardless of a person’s motives for needing to enter the country, whether it be for work, leisure or personal reasons, a criminal offense can be a reason to deny that person entry into Canada. Furthermore, inadmissibility can apply even if a conviction has not yet resulted and a case is still pending in court. From the moment an arrest occurs for a given criminal offense, this can lead to an individual’s denial to be permitted to cross into Canada.

An offense committed outside of Canada, can be potentially be grounds for inadmissibility. These can include simple misdemeanor offenses such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and reckless driving, as well as more serious felony offenses such as burglary and aggravated assault. Even if such convictions occurred 25 or 30 years ago, depending on the nature of the offenses and the number of convictions, an individual can still be turned away by the authorities at the Canadian border.

Overcoming inadmissibility

Inadmissibility due to a past criminal offense on an individual’s record can be overcome by applying for permission to enter Canada with the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), previously known as the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Depending on one’s particular situation, the following applications can be prepared on your behalf by our legal team:

  • Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
  • Criminal Rehabilitation (CR)
  • Deemed Rehabilited

Temporary Resident Permit

An application for a temporary resident permit can be prepared on your behalf to be submitted to the IRCC. This is the ideal option for anyone who is seeking to enter Canada in the near or even immediate future for business, leisure or personal purposes. The TRP may be valid for multiple entries, with the right to exit and re-enter the country during the validity of the permit. The temporary resident permit can be granted for a period of up to three years and can be renewed depending on the situation. Where over five years have elapsed since the completion of any and all sentences imposed, individuals become eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation (see below).

Criminal Rehabilitation

For individuals who have completed all of the conditions of their sentence, such as payment of fines, completion of any courses and/or programs, community service and probation period, over five years ago and who did not commit any subsequent offense, are eligible to apply to the IRCC for Criminal Rehabilitation. The purpose of such an application is to permanently resolve inadmissibility issues and to be once again allowed to enter and exit Canada as they wish. With this application we will be asking Canadian authorities to recognize the applicant as having been rehabilitated. Criminal rehabilitation is the ideal solution to travel to Canada worry free for those who are eligible.

Deemed Rehabilitated

A Legal Opinion Letter can be an attractive option for those individuals who need to enter Canada but who do not require a temporary resident permit or a criminal rehabilitation approval. The legal opinion letter can be used in one of the following two situations and is to be presented to the Canadian border officers:

  1. A situation where one is deemed rehabilitated by the effect of time: when an individual was convicted of a single offence, the equivalent Canadian offence does not carry a maximum sentence of over 10 years, and more than 10 years have passed since the completion of sentencing terms, such person is deemed to have been rehabilitated. A legal opinion letter prepared by an attorney can help explain the legal basis of this situation at the crossing point.
  2. Offenses that would no longer lead to inadmissibility for Canadian immigration purposes: A ruling of deferred adjudication or a conditional discharge, a dismissed charge, and a disposition of nolle prosequi. As convictions in the US vary from state to state, our team of attorneys can help you determine whether you are eligible to travel to Canada.

Canadian laws and the reasons US citizens are refused entry

Many US citizens are surprised to learn that they cannot enter Canada because of a DUI offense dating from several years ago. These unsuspecting individuals can get turned away at the point of entry, in which case they are asked to return to the United States immediately while their friends, family or work colleagues, are left angry and confused that their vacation plans or business trip is ruined. It is therefore important to know your rights and the options available to you prior to attempting to cross into Canada with a criminal record.

Under Canada’s laws, section 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) specifies that a foreign national (non-Canadian) who has committed an offense outside of Canada, which would be considered under a Canadian Act of Parliament an indictable offense, would be deemed inadmissible for entry into the country. The same section further specifies that an offense which can be prosecuted summarily or by way or indictment is presumed to be an indictable offense, which means that even a simple misdemeanour offense committed in the USA can be considered as grounds for inadmissibility.

Common offenses which can render one inadmissible

A. Driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI, OVI, DUAI, DWAI, OWI, OUI): Any offense relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of any substance, be it alcohol or drugs is grounds to render one inadmissible. It is important to understand that a DUI can result even if one has been impaired by medicine prescribed to them, such as antidepressants, medical marijuana etc., and which caused them to be unable to drive in a safe way.

B. Reckless Driving: Though an arrest can initially be made on the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol (regardless of the exact term used), convictions can sometimes result on a lesser charge, such a reckless driving. The fact that the charge was reduced does not necessarily remedy the situation and such a conviction can still nonetheless lead to inadmissibility.

C. Disorderly Conduct: A conviction under this offense may result in inadmissibility depending on the facts involved. In certain situations, you may still be admissible onto Canada despite having such a conviction on your record. Please contact us for further detailed information.

Other examples of offenses which can render one inadmissible, include the following:

  • Assault
  • Drug Possession
  • Burglary
  • Theft/Larceny
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Federal offenses
  • Hunting/Fishing offenses

Expedited temporary resident permit application

In some situations, one may not have the luxury of time to apply to the Canadian Government for the approval of his or her temporary resident permit application. Whether it be for a family emergency, a last-minute business meeting or any other urgent necessity to enter Canada, our team of experienced immigration attorneys can help. An expedited application package can be prepared on your behalf to be presented at the border for an immigration officer’s review of your file on the spot.

Prior refusal to enter Canada

If you have been denied entry in the past and have not yet taken the necessary steps to rectify the inadmissibility, you should not attempt to re-enter Canada without the proper authorization to do so. Any non-compliance can negatively impact your chances of a future entry or a favorable decision from the Consulate regarding your situation. Please contact our attorneys today to discuss your inadmissibility issues.

DISCLAIMER: The aforementioned is for general information purposes only and should not be viewed as legal advice. For any specific questions, please contact us by phone or email.