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Criminal Inadmissibility – What You Should Know Before Trying to Enter Canada

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Anyone applying for Canadian permanent residency or to visit, work, or study in Canada may be prohibited from entering the country if he/she has been charged or convicted of a criminal offence that occurred inside or outside of Canada. Even minor offences may render a person inadmissible to Canada.

Some examples of convictions that could make an applicant inadmissible to Canada include shoplifting, assault, and possession of marijuana or other controlled substances/drugs. Even driving while under the influence (DUI) can lead to an applicant being refused entry to Canada.

That being said, there may be ways of coming to Canada even with past convictions.

Criminal Rehabilitation

A conviction for a single summary offence (misdemeanour) may be ignored for Canadian immigration purposes. If an applicant was convicted of one or more indictable offences (felonies) and more than five years have passed since the completion of any imposed sentences, including probation, that applicant is eligible to submit an application for Criminal Rehabilitation. To submit an application for Criminal Rehabilitation, an applicant must provide proof that he/she has been rehabilitated and is not likely to re-offend.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

If an applicant was convicted of an indictable offence and less than five years have passed since the completion of the sentence, the applicant is technically criminally inadmissible to Canada. However, an applicant may be admitted to Canada for a specific purpose by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit. An applicant must have good reasons for wanting to enter Canada and these will be measured against the danger to Canadian society in admitting the applicant.

Deemed Rehabilitated

If an applicant was convicted of a single imprisonment offence and the equivalent Canadian offence does not carry a maximum sentence of ten years or more and the completion of the sentence occurred more than ten years ago, the applicant is deemed to have been rehabilitated. Although no specific application is required, an applicant must prove that the sentence has been completed.


For the purposes of Canadian immigration, some sentences, such as conditional discharges and dismissed charges, are not considered convictions. Sentencing can vary by country and state, so each case needs to be examined on its own merits.

Understanding how a criminal offence in one country is equivalent to an offence in Canada can be complicated. Whether you need to enter Canada to visit a family member or attend a business meeting, you need to know if a past criminal offence will prevent you from entering Canada and which steps need to be taken before applying to enter Canada.

Campbell Cohen has extensive experience dealing with all types of criminality-related immigration issues. Contact us for more information about the preparation of a legal opinion, or find out more about how we can help you.



3 thoughts on “Criminal Inadmissibility – What You Should Know Before Trying to Enter Canada

  1. Avatar

    17 years a ago i got UK police caution for miss using a credit card (IT SAYS STOLLEN CARD ) DO YOU THINK IT BADLY EFFECT ON PR IN CANADA

  2. Avatar

    Hi Hamed,

    did you get ur PR starus, with this record?

  3. Avatar

    I am a PhD student in Canada who has committed a shoplifting misdemeanor with 84$ value in States in April, 2012. I was found guilty (as my Final Disposition) though I was not sentenced to any probation or jail and imprisonment. My status was judged to be Released On Recognizance for one year. I was only fined for 184$.
    Can you guide me whether I will be eligible to apply for a Canadian Permanent Residency in April, 2014 or not? How can I go through rehabilitation application? or generally what’s the best workaround for me to get rid of my criminal record in USA. As far as I know they call it a summary conviction because it has been less than 5,000$. Also, I am wondering to know if I can be considered for Diversion Program? I really don’t want this little mistake cast its shadow on my life forever. Totally, does my criminal background make me inadmissible to Canada? (I guess yes) so I’d come up with the next question which is “What can I do to get my PR”.
    I just arrived to Canada 1 month ago and want to plan my life in advance as of now and make the correct steps to mitigate and diminish the negative influence of my criminal record in States on my Canadian PR application (in next two years).
    Please advise

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