U.S. tourists to Canada: Do you have a criminal record?

Michael Schwartz, Matt Hendler
Published: July 19, 2021

Fully-vaccinated tourists from the United States will be able to travel to Canada effective August 9, 2021.

The exemption will apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents currently living in the U.S. They must have been completed their vaccination at least two weeks before coming to Canada. Canada will not require all visitors to take COVID tests on arrival and then a week later. However, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may perform spot checks at ports of entry (POEs).  

Canada first introduced the restrictions on American tourists on March 21, 2020. The long-awaited lifting of the ban on U.S. tourism will benefit millions of people on both sides of the border. In 2019, Canada welcomed 15 million tourists from the U.S. About 10 per cent of jobs in Canada are tied to the tourism sector.

If you are planning your long-awaited trip to Canada, you need to keep in mind that Canada has strict rules if you have a criminal record. It is important to understand these rules and what they mean so you are not denied entry. Criminal inadmissibility can prevent someone from coming to Canada, whether the stay is short term or long term, work or study, family or leisure

Click here to get a free consultation with the Law Firm of Campbell Cohen

I may be inadmissible to Canada, how can prepare myself in advance? 

Offenses such as driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, and assault are common examples of criminal charges that pose a risk at the border. If you are criminally inadmissible to Canada, or think you may be, it is important to know that you still have options. 

The Canadian government offers potential short- and long-term solutions to travellers with a criminal history. The first, a temporary fix, is called the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). The second, a permanent solution, is known as Criminal Rehabilitation 

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

A Temporary Resident Permit is designed for people who need temporary access into Canada. TRPs are typically granted to individuals who demonstrate compelling reasons for entry. That means they must show that the benefits of their visit to Canada outweigh any risks. Individuals who wish to travel to Canada for leisure purposes are typically advised to apply for criminal rehabilitation if they meet the requirements. 

Criminal Rehabilitation 

A criminal rehabilitation application is for permanent clearance of criminal history. To apply for rehabilitation, it must be at least five years since you completed your sentence(s). The term sentence here refers to any judicial result of your case which could include prison or probation time, payment of fines and community service or classes. Once an applicant is approved for Criminal Rehabilitation, they no longer require a Temporary Resident Permit 

If it has been less than five years since you finished your sentence, you are not eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation. But, you may be eligible for a TRP.  

Legal Opinion Letter

Legal advice can be beneficial to you even if you have not yet been convicted of a crime. Anyone who has been charged with an offence but has not yet been convicted can take steps to avoid becoming inadmissible to Canada. If you have been charged with an offence in another country, you may want to have a legal opinion letter prepared by a Canadian immigration lawyer. 

This is a report with details concerning your criminal charge, the lawyer’s legal conclusions and explanation as to how a potential sentence will impact your ability to enter Canada. It can be a helpful tool in deciding how to plead your case.

Different solutions are available

Now that the border is opening, travellers with a criminal past who wish to travel to Canada should prepare themselves in advance of a trip. The rules are strict, but there are different solutions available. What is best will depend on each person’s case, history, and reason for entering Canada.  

Click here to get a free consultation with the Law Firm of Campbell Cohen

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Discover your Canadian immigration options at CanadaVisa.com.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at media@canadavisa.com
Related articles
Some citizens of Mexico now require a visa to visit Canada
A Mexican and Canadian flag together in diagonal arrangement.
Which Canadian industries may require a criminal record check for employment?
Close-up Of Human Hand Filling Criminal Background Check Application Form With Pen
Canadian job offers: The difference between temporary versus permanent job offers
Canadian job offers: The difference between temporary versus permanent job offers
Three ways to overcome a cannabis conviction before coming to Canada
marijuana leaf and a wooden gavel isolated on wood background
Top Stories
IRCC increases number of permits it will process under temporary special measures for Palestinian extended family in Gaza
What kind of school should I apply to as an international student in Canada?
How to Avoid a Rejected Educational Credential Assessment
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Sponsor Content
How to Avoid a Rejected Educational Credential Assessment
If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) rejects your ECA your immigration process could be delayed. Keep reading to learn how to avoid a rejected ECA.
How to improve your IELTS Score?
A woman is with an examiner from the IELTS test.
Banking for International Students: A Helpful Guide to Picking the Right Bank Account and Credit Card in Canada
There are two main types of personal deposit accounts that international students can open in Canada: chequing and savings.
Know You Are Prepared: 10 Essential Strategies for Success on CELPIP – the Only Canadian Test Designated by IRCC
If you’re applying to become a permanent resident or citizen of Canada, taking the CELPIP Test is an essential step toward your goal because it is one of the approved language tests and the only Canadian functional language assessment designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Link copied to clipboard