Can I enter Canada with a criminal record?

Daniel Levy
Published: December 12, 2021

Foreign nationals need to be aware that a criminal record can make them inadmissible to Canada.

While a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer can deny you entry into Canada if you have a criminal record, you still have the possibility to enter the country if you prepare in advance. The Canadian government recognizes that those with criminal records are capable of being rehabilitated and also may not necessarily pose a risk to the safety of Canadians. As such, it provides three major ways to overcome criminal inadmissibility to the country.

Click here to get a free legal consultation

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

As the name implies, a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a remedy that allows an individual who is inadmissible to Canada to enter the country on a temporary basis. Its validity period can be up to three years. You need to submit a TRP application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) providing a compelling reason why you should be allowed to enter Canada, and why the benefits to Canada of allowing you entry outweigh potential risks. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are able to submit their TRP applications when they get to Canada or they can get pre-approval by submitting their application at a Canadian consulate. All other foreign nationals can submit their TRP application at a Canadian consulate. The application fee is $200 CAD.

Click here to get a free legal consultation


Unlike the TRP, rehabilitation is a permanent way to overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada. Once you are rehabilitated, your criminal record is no longer grounds to deny you entry to Canada as long as you do not commit any further offenses. There are two forms of rehabilitation.

Individual rehabilitation is an option if it has been at least five years since the end of your sentence. The application fee is either $200 or $1,000, based on the severity of your conviction. Your application needs to demonstrate you have been rehabilitated and are no longer prone to conducting criminal acts. You can do this by providing evidence such as that you have a stable lifestyle, taken steps to improve your behaviour, and/or your offense was an isolated event.

Deemed rehabilitation is an option if your conviction was for a less serious crime and at least 10 years have gone by since you completed your sentence. You will automatically be deemed rehabilitated due to the passage of time. To be on the safe side, however, you may still choose to get a Legal Opinion Letter in case you need to prove to a CBSA officer that you should be allowed into Canada.

Legal Opinion Letter

Obtaining a Legal Opinion Letter is your third option. The letters are prepared by lawyers and they provide explanation to CBSA officers why they should permit you entry. Your lawyer can explain facts such as that you are deemed rehabilitated, or your offense was isolated or not serious, or there is no Canadian equivalent to your offense. Such letters can support your TRP or rehabilitation application.

Again, it is important to stress that it is in your best interests to prepare well in advance of your trip to Canada by getting professional advice so that you can enter the country without major difficulties.

Click here to get a free legal consultation

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

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
Related articles
Donald Trump may now be inadmissible to enter Canada
A picture of a gavel and scales, in a court room.
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
Montreal ranks among top ten best cities for international students
IRCC invites 6,300 Canadian Experience Class candidates in latest Express Entry draw
Six frequently asked questions about Canadian work permits
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Work
Six frequently asked questions about Canadian work permits
A group of working professionals, in an office building.
Why IRCC may refuse your application for a post-graduation work permit
Female entrepreneur working using laptop looking at camera.
Am I eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit?
A Family of four enjoying golden leaves in autumn park
Five free settlement resources for temporary foreign workers in Canada
Workers use a tablet with grain growing in the background.
Link copied to clipboard