Inadmissibility: How to transit through Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: September 20, 2022

If you are a foreign national who has been arrested or convicted of a criminal offence, you may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada. Even if you are only in transit through Canada and not plan to stay in the country, being criminally inadmissible can pose problems to travelers.

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If a traveller is flying through Canada and taking a connecting flight, they are often still required to go through Canadian customs. In the eyes of the Canadian border authorities, there is no difference between entering Canada to stay and entering Canada to transit through to another country. Therefore, being criminally inadmissible to Canada can be problematic either or not you are staying in Canada.

Ways to overcome inadmissibility for the purpose of transit through Canada

Fortunately, there are solutions available to you as long as you prepare in advance of your trip.

There are three main ways for those who will be in transit through Canada to overcome criminal inadmissibility:

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

Temporary Resident Permit Application

A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is an option for an individual considered criminally inadmissible as it grants temporary access to Canada for a certain period of time. A TRP is used in situations where a traveler has a valid reason for entering into Canada and the benefits of their entry outweigh any risks to Canadian society.

A TRP application can be granted for up to three years, depending on the reason of entry. A person can apply for a TRP at any point and does not require the completion of a criminal sentence.

Criminal Rehabilitation Application

The Canadian Government offers the opportunity to submit a criminal rehabilitation application to permanently clear your past criminal history for the purposes of entering Canada. The criminal rehabilitation application is a one-time solution that does not require renewal. Upon receiving approval for criminal rehabilitation, an individual is no longer considered inadmissible and would not require a TRP for entry into Canada.

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

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

The most critical requirement is determining and understanding the equivalent offence in Canada. Per Canada’s Criminal Code, the nature and the gravity of the offense is important, as Canadian immigration authorities characterize offences based on serious versus non-serious criminality.

Legal Opinion Letter

The legal opinion letter will explain the consequences of a conviction for the Canadian immigration purposes, including a legal analysis of your case and how it fits into the context of Canadian law. The letter cannot override criminal inadmissibility, but it can explain why you are not inadmissible in the first place.

The letter can be submitted along with a TRP application or a criminal rehabilitation application. It can also be submitted if you have been convicted of a crime but charges are still pending.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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