Your options to overcome inadmissibility to Canada

Edana Robitaille
Published: July 24, 2023

Canada welcomes millions of tourists, visitors, immigrants, foreign workers, and students each year. However, before coming to Canada, whatever the reason, it's important to know that a past criminal record can make you inadmissible.

If you have been convicted of a crime in the past, your admissibility to Canada is calculated based on the equivalency of the foreign criminal offence into Canadian law.

If your crime was considered a summary, or less serious, offence, you may still be admissible and not require any additional permission or documentation to enter the country.

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However, if you were indicted, it could be seen as a more serious crime, and you will likely not be allowed in Canada. Further, if you have two non-indictable offences on your record it can render you inadmissible.

Common types of convictions that lead to inadmissibility:

  • Impaired driving
  • Reckless Driving
  • Fraud
  • Assault
  • Drug offences

How to overcome inadmissibility

If you know you are likely to be inadmissible to Canada, there are a few ways you may be able to overcome it. The two most common are Temporary Resident Permits (TRP) and Criminal Rehabilitation applications.

Temporary Resident Permit Application

A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) gives you legal entry to Canada for a certain period. It is not subject to a specific timeframe relating to the completion of a sentence and can be valid for up to three years depending on the reason for entry (such as work or a family situation). If you require an extension, you can apply from inside Canada.

You should apply for a TRP if you:

  • Have been convicted outside of Canada of a crime that, if committed in Canada, is equivalent to an indictable offence punishable by a sentence of less than 10 years
  • Have been convicted outside of Canada of a crime that would be equivalent to a hybrid offence punishable by a sentence of less than 10 years. A hybrid offence can be prosecuted in Canada either by summary process or by indictment.
  • Have been convicted of two or more crimes that, if committed in Canada, would be equivalent to two summary offences.

Submit a Criminal Rehabilitation application

If you would prefer permanent clearance of a past offence, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. You only need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation once and, if approved, you will not need to apply for a TRP in future. To be eligible:

  • You must have committed an act outside of Canada that would constitute an offence under the Canadian Criminal Code; and
  • You must have been convicted of, or admitted to, committing the act; and
  • Five years must have passed since the full sentence or sentences were completed. This phase includes jail time, fines, and probation

Types of Criminal Rehabilitation

Two forms of Criminal Rehabilitation can resolve inadmissibility to Canada.

Individual rehabilitation is most common when five years have passed since the completion of a sentence for a less serious offence before applying. You should be able to demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated over time and are no longer a risk for criminal activity.

You can prove this by showing proof of a stable lifestyle; community ties; social and vocational skills; or that the criminal offence was an isolated event.

Deemed rehabilitation is better for those who have been convicted of an indictable offence punishable by a sentence of less than ten years, and they meet the following requirements:

  • Ten years have passed since the completion of their prison term sentence;
  • They have not been convicted of any indictable offence or summary offence in Canada in the last ten years, or more than one summary conviction in the ten years before that; and
  • They have not been convicted outside Canada of an offence in the last ten years that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence, or of more than one summary conviction in the ten years before that.

Applications for both types of criminal rehabilitation can take 6-12 months to process and cost anywhere from $200-$1000 (depending on the severity of the offence) so it is beneficial to plan as far in advance as possible.

Legal Opinion Letter

When applying for a TRP or criminal rehabilitation, it can be helpful to submit a Legal Opinion Letter addressed to the Canadian government authority assessing your admissibility to Canada.

The letter is written by a Canadian immigration lawyer. The lawyer explains in the letter how the crime equates to Canadian law and how it can impact Canadian immigration law. This information can help the immigration officer decide how to respond to the charges and how the different outcomes such as conviction or sentencing would affect your ability to enter to Canada.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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