How to visit Canada this summer even if you have a criminal record

Daniel Levy
Published: May 11, 2022

If you believe you are criminally inadmissible to Canada, don't lose hope. You may still be able to take your vacation to Canada this summer.

Canada lifted border restrictions for fully vaccinated tourists late last summer. This year will be the first full summer of open borders—provided you meet the government's definition of fully vaccinated and are not otherwise inadmissible.

But even if a past conviction looms over your record, the Canadian government offers a few pathways to overcome inadmissibility.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Temporary Resident Permit

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a temporary solution for those who wish to come to Canada with a criminal history. In order to be eligible for this option, you need to demonstrate to the Canadian government that the benefits of your trip outweigh the risks.

The TRP is a solution for those seeking temporary entry to Canada. It can be a faster process than applying for criminal rehabilitation. A number of individuals choose to apply for a TRP and criminal rehabilitation at the same time.

Criminal Rehabilitation

Criminal rehabilitation can resolve criminal inadmissibility permanently. If Canada approves your criminal rehabilitation application, your criminal record will no longer prevent you from visiting Canada⁠ as long as you do not commit another crime. At least five years must have passed from the completion of your most recent sentence before you can apply for rehabilitation.

The application fee you pay will depend on the severity of your crime. It costs $200 CAD to apply for rehabilitation for non-serious criminality and $1,000 CAD for serious criminality.

Deemed Rehabilitation

If at least 10 years have passed since you were convicted of a non-serious crime, you can be deemed rehabilitated. In this case, you may automatically be deemed rehabilitated under Canadian law and not need to submit an application before visiting.

However, many people consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer before their trip to get peace of mind. A lawyer may be able to write you a legal opinion letter to help you avoid unnecessary misunderstandings by CBSA officers once you arrive.

Legal Opinion Letters

Legal Opinion Letters can be drafted by a Canadian immigration lawyer with details concerning your charge and the lawyer’s legal analysis of the situation. The letter explains the legal matter, identifies risks and relevant Canadian law, and explains why you should be deemed admissible to Canada.

Legal Opinion Letters can be used to support a TRP or Rehabilitation application.

Although Canada has strict rules regarding criminality, there are good reasons to encourage tourism. In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, tourism added $15.4 billion to the Canadian economy, according to Statistics Canada. Therefore, Canada has an invested interest in accommodating entry for tourists.

Preparing in advance by understanding your options to overcome criminal inadmissibility can help you get a smooth entry into Canada.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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