Canada and the United States share security information at all ports of entry. This can include criminal and immigration records, even from long ago.
This means that when a person tries to enter Canada from the United States, Canadian border agents have access to all prior U.S. removal or deportation orders. Essentially, if you have been previously deported from the United States, Canadian officials will know—and know why—and may deny you entry to Canada.
A record of being deported from the USA—or any other country—can negatively impact all Canadian immigration applications. This is the case whether you want to come to Canada to work, study, or live. Both temporary and permanent stays are affected including those to work, study or reside. For this reason, it is important to understand how a removal order from the U.S. and other countries can affect your ability to enter Canada.
The American Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency reports that in 2020, it conducted over 103,000 administrative arrests. In that same period, it also removed over 185,000 people from the United States. Many of those who have been deported show interest in Canada as a new place to settle. Before doing so, it is important to understand the steps to take to ensure you can enter Canada freely.
If you have been deported from the US or another foreign country, you are considered criminally inadmissible to Canada.
To overcome this status, you will require permanent clearance from a Canadian consulate by applying for criminal rehabilitation. This is a status the Canadian government can provide in order to resolve inadmissibility. It lasts permanently—as long as the person does not re-offend—and allows indefinite travel in and out of Canada.
Eligibility will depend on things like how the kind of crime and sentence imposed and how much time as passed since sentence completion. Being criminally rehabilitated can ease any worry about being turned away at the border.
If you were deported from the U.S. because of a criminal conviction, and if it has been more than five years since completing your sentence, you are likely eligible to apply for Canadian criminal rehabilitation. This application is handled by a Canadian consulate. The process is quite thorough, as you must prove that you are posing no risk to Canada or its citizens.
The most important consideration in criminal rehabilitation is establishing the equivalent offence in Canada. For example, Canada considers some criminal acts as less severe, whereas it treats others as “serious criminality”. Any crime for which the maximum sentence is ten years or more is considered a serious crime. As of 2018, driving under the influence (DUI) carries with it a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. This means that since that point, a DUI conviction is considered serious criminality.
If a criminal record translates to serious criminality, a traveler will face further issues. These include additional scrutiny, longer processing times, and higher application costs ($1,000 CAD) from the Canadian government. The processing fee for non-serious criminality is $200 CAD. Once the application has been prepared and submitted, the standard processing time is approximately 12 months.
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