Do I need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation to enter Canada?

Matt Hendler, Michael Schwartz
Published: August 27, 2021

Are you planning to come to Canada to immigrate, study, work, or simply visit? 

Canada has strict rules for people with criminal records. These laws are designed to keep the country and Canadians safe.  Factors such as what the offence is, how long ago the sentence was completed, and how many convictions a person has, all factor in.  

Since late 2018, a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction makes a person inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. In theory, such a person is banned from Canada forever. There are some ways of changing this, though. One of them is via the Criminal Rehabilitation application.  

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If you have a criminal record and believe you may be inadmissible to Canada; you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This is a process that clears your record for the purpose of entering Canada. Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent solution. Once approved, it is permanent, as long as you do not commit another offence.  Being criminally rehabilitated can ease any worry about being turned away at the border. Even offences such as theft, driving under the influence, and assault can be an issue and result in a person being considered inadmissible to Canada.  

In order to be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, at least five years must have passed since you completed your sentence(s). A sentence can include prison or probation time, payment of fines and any required community service or classes. If you have an unresolved case, or a warrant, you are not eligible to apply. If it has been less than five years since completion of sentence, you are also ineligible for Criminal Rehabilitation. There is another more temporary status, though, known as the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for which you can apply. 

Canada deals with a person’s criminal history by translating the person’s foreign crime into the Canadian equivalent. This translation is very important when a person is interested in applying for Criminal Rehabilitation. The Canadian government will charge a unique processing fee depending on if the criminal record is based on non-serious or serious criminality. The Government fee is $200 CAD for non-serious criminality and $1000 CAD for serious criminality.

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In order to submit a fully completed criminal rehabilitation application, you must include the following: 

  1. Application for Criminal Rehabilitation form 
  2. Use of a Representative form, if applicable 
  3. Copy of applicant’s passport 
  4. Statements addressing circumstances of conviction(s), applicants' rehabilitation 
  5. Letters of reference 
  6. Court documentation for any offense on record 
  7. The foreign or Canadian laws under which you were charged or convicted. You can obtain copies of foreign laws by contacting local police authorities, lawyers, or the courthouse which handled the case 
  8. FBI and state police background checks 
  9. Once these documents have been included, the application can be submitted to a Canadian consulate for processing. 

The Canadian government offers the Criminal Rehabilitation application to forgive those who can show a significant change since being convicted of a crime. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) makes the application form available online, and a person can choose to fill it out themself. However, many applicants decide to use a representative to make sure the application is as appealing as possible. A Canadian immigration lawyer can offer helpful guidance throughout the preparation and submission of a Criminal Rehabilitation application. They can help the applicant understand the crime(s) and sentence(s) on the applicant's record. The lawyer can also help the applicant identify and collect all the documents required. An attorney can also draft a letter explaining why the person is or should be criminally rehabilitated.  

It is important to know and understand Canada's strict rules on admitting those with a criminal record. The country tries to balance safety and security with openness and second chances. If a person can show that they have changed their ways and pose no risk, then they can overcome a criminal inadmissibility issue. Criminal Rehabilitation is the best way to accomplish this.  

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

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