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

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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.

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