How you can overcome inadmissibility if you wish to enter Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: October 11, 2023

Canada has admissibility requirements that a foreign national must meet before they are allowed to enter the country, which include passing a criminal background check and completing a medical examination.

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What is criminal inadmissibility?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) place massive importance on securing the borders from anyone who may pose a risk to the country. Therefore, they may deny entry to someone who is likely to commit a crime during their time in Canada.

If you are a foreign national and have been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense, you may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada. If you have a past criminal charge in a foreign country, your admissibility to Canada is calculated based on the equivalency of the foreign offence into Canadian law.

If the offense translates to a summary offense, and it is your only criminal conviction, you may be considered admissible to Canada and not require permission to enter. If the translation is to one of an indictable offence, which can be defined as serious criminality, you may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada.

How to overcome criminal inadmissibility

There are three main ways to overcome inadmissibility to Canada:

  • A Temporary Resident Permit application
  • A Criminal Rehabilitation application
  • A Legal Opinion letter

A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is an option if you are considered criminally inadmissible to Canada. The TRP grants temporary access to Canada for a determined 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 to Canada. A person can apply for a TRP anytime and it does not require the applicant to have completed their criminal sentence.

Canada allows foreign nationals with criminal history to submit a criminal rehabilitation application. This application permanently clears your past criminal history for the purposes of entering Canada. The criminal rehabilitation application is a one-time solution and does not require renewal. Upon receiving approval for criminal rehabilitation, you are no longer considered inadmissible and you would not need 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.

Finally, if you have committed or been convicted of a crime, you can pre-emptively avoid being found inadmissible to Canada by submitting a legal opinion letter addressed to the judicial authority hearing your case.

A legal opinion letter is drafted by a Canadian immigration lawyer and explains the consequences of a conviction for the 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 your ability to come to Canada. The letter can even suggest alternate infractions that would not lead to inadmissibility.

What is medical inadmissibility?

Anyone who applies for a Canadian immigration visa is required to undergo a medical examination. These examinations are usually standard physical exams.

An applicant may be found medically inadmissible if:

  • They have a medical condition that may reasonably be expected to endanger the health or safety of the Canadian population, or
  • Their admission to Canada may reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on Canada’s public health and social services

The medical officer must consider the nature, severity, and probable duration of any health impairment from which the applicant is suffering in order to determine medical inadmissibility.

Upon a finding of medical inadmissibility, it is possible to seek legal remedy by demonstrating that the applicant will not exceed the estimated average costs of medical treatment in Canada, or that there are a humanitarian and compassionate considerations that should warrant an exception in their case.

Similar to criminal inadmissibility, for temporary stays in Canada, an applicant who does not meet the medical admissibility requirements may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to overcome medical inadmissibility and enter Canada.

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