How your family member can make you inadmissible to Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: January 14, 2024

Canada ensures that every foreign national meets admissibility requirements before they are allowed to enter the country. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) prioritize securing the country’s borders from those who may pose a risk. Therefore, these two organizations can deny entry to any foreign national who they believe is likely to commit a crime during their visit to Canada.

A person may also be deemed medically inadmissible to Canada. This can occur if they are likely to be a danger to public health or to public safety, or if they have a condition that might reasonably be expected to put excessive demand on health and social services.

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Family member inadmissibility

All family members of family class or the spousal sponsorship immigration candidates, whether accompanying or not, must be examined. This includes a medical examination as well as a determination if they are inadmissible for criminal or security reasons. Generally, applicants and family members over the age of 18 must provide police certificates, clearances or records of non-conviction.

In most cases, an applicant will be denied entry to Canada on the grounds of having an inadmissible family member if that person, whether accompanying or not, has been determined to be inadmissible.

With respect to non-accompanying family members, a principal applicant will be inadmissible to Canada themselves if their inadmissible non-accompanying family member are:

  • Spouses, except if they are separated (in law or fact)
  • Common-law partners
  • Dependent children, of whom the applicant or their accompanying family member has custody or the power to act on their behalf
  • Dependent grandchildren, of whom the applicant or their accompanying family member has custody or the power to act on their behalf

Whether accompanying or non-accompanying, a inadmissible family member may not make a principal applicant inadmissible if both these conditions apply to your situation:

  • You are a temporary resident or a temporary resident applicant, and
  • The inadmissibility is not because of security, human or international rights violations or organized criminality

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) distinguishes between permanent and temporary residents when it comes to inadmissibility of a family member. For permanent residents, the scope of what will make a person inadmissible is broader than for temporary residents. The policy reasoning behind this is that permanent residents intend to remain in Canada and have the opportunity to sponsor family members. In comparison, temporary residents are expected to leave at the end of their stay and cannot sponsor a family member.

What to do if your family member is inadmissible to Canada

It is important to remember that if a family member is inadmissible to Canada, this information must be disclosed on your application. Failure to do so may constitute misrepresentation.

In order to overcome inadmissibility, there are a few options. These include:

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

A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) grants temporary access to Canada for a limited period of time. A TRP can be granted for up to three years, depending on the reason of entry. A TRP is usually used when a foreign national has a valid reason for entering Canada and the benefits of their entry outweigh any risks to Canadian society. A person can apply for a TRP at any point and this process does not require completing a criminal sentence.

A Criminal Rehabilitation application is submitted to the federal government and permanently clears your past criminal history for the purposes of entering the country. The benefit of this application is that it is a one-time solution that does not require renewal. Once you receive approval for criminal rehabilitation, you are no longer considered inadmissible to Canada. This means you would not require a TRP to enter the country.

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

  • Committed an act outside of Canada that would be equivalent to an offence under the Canadian Criminal Code;
  • Have been convicted or admitted to committing the act; and
  • Five years must have passed since the sentence has been completed, including jail times, fines, community service or probation.

Lastly, if a person has committed or been convicted of a crime, they can pre-emptively avoid being found inadmissible to Canada by submitting a Legal Opinion letter. This letter is a document drafted by a Canadian immigration lawyer and refers to relevant sections of Canadian law. It will explain consequences of a guilty verdict and how this would have an impact on Canadian immigration. The contents of the letter would help the case’s deciding authority determine how to respond to various charges and how different convictions and sentencing would affect a person’s ability to enter Canada.

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