Can I enter Canada if I have a criminal record, but I’m a performing artist?

Julia Hornstein
Published: July 10, 2022

If you have a criminal record, it is likely that you will encounter issues entering Canada. If you are a foreign national who has been convicted of an offense or arrested, you may be criminally inadmissible to Canada. No matter the reason for travel, any individual with a criminal record is subject to Canada’s strict entry requirements.

Inadmissibility issues can arise when foreign national artists need to come to Canada temporarily for shows or performances. Fame and fortune by no means guarantee entry into Canada. Several celebrities have been denied entry over the last few years, including singers, actors, comedians and even members of their supporting crew.

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Fortunately, there may be solutions available to you as long as you prepare in advance. Depending on the nature of your crime and the time passed since your most recent offense, there are temporary and permanent solutions to address the issue of criminal inadmissibility.

There are three main ways to overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada:

  • Criminal Rehabilitation application
  • Temporary Resident Permit application
  • Legal Opinion Letter

Criminal Rehabilitation application

If it has been at least five years since the completion of the imposed sentence, an individual can submit an application for criminal rehabilitation. This application permanently clears your past criminal history for the purpose of entering Canada. Upon receiving approval for criminal rehabilitation, the individual will no longer be considered inadmissible to Canada.

In order to be eligible for criminal rehabilitation, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Five years must have passed since the completion of your sentence. This includes jail time, fines, community service or probation.
  • You must have committed an act outside of Canada that would be equivalent to an offence under the Canadian Criminal Code.
  • You must have been convicted of or admitted to committing the act.

Temporary Resident Permit application

If it has been less than five years since the completion of the imposed sentence, an individual can instead apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This application grants temporary access to Canada for a certain period of time. A TRP is given in situations where a traveller has a valid reason for entering Canada and the benefits of their entry outweigh any risks to Canadian society.

A TRP can be granted for up to three years, depending on the reasons for entry, and does not require the completion of a criminal sentence.

Legal Opinion Letter

A legal opinion letter, which is drafted by a Canadian immigration lawyer, will explain the consequences of a conviction for Canadian immigration purposes. It will refer to relevant sections of Canadian law to help the official decide how to respond to charges and how different outcomes (conviction, sentencing, etc.) would affect the traveller’s ability to come to Canada. The effects of inadmissibility can have severe effects on employment as well as ability to see family members in Canada, so the letter can appeal to a judge’s compassion and be taken into consideration when deciding on an outcome.

What kind of offense requires no application?

If a person was convicted of one indictable offense or two summary offenses, and the equivalent Canadian offense does not carry a maximum sentence of 10 years or more and more than 10 years have elapsed since the sentence has been completed, they would be deemed rehabilitated. No application is required, although it is recommended to have a legal opinion drafted by a lawyer.

In addition, some sentences are not considered convictions for the purposes of Canadian immigration. A Canadian immigration lawyer can advise whether their case resulted in a conviction for the purposes of Canadian immigration and can also draft a legal opinion.

If you are a performing artist and want to come to Canada and need to overcome criminal inadmissibility, a Canadian immigration lawyer can guide you. They will sit down with you to identify the past path forward, whether it is criminal rehabilitation, a TRP or drafting an appropriate legal opinion letter.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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