Can I Enter Canada with a Criminal Record

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How do I enter Canada with Criminal Record

Often times, individuals want to enter Canada for business or leisure reasons. However, countless people are not aware of their own criminal charge or conviction, and therefore, they are denied entry to Canada.  Even minor offenses can lead to what Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada calls criminal inadmissibility. Do not give up your hopes for entering Canada, though. Fortunately, you may overcome criminal inadmissibility by acquiring the official permission from the Canadian government. In this blog, you will learn relevant information you need to evaluate your situation, formulate a strategy, and properly prepare for all the required documents.

Overcoming your Criminal Inadmissibility

After you have determined and evaluated the criminal offenses that may make you inadmissible to Canada, you may overcome your criminal inadmissibility by applying for a temporary resident permit or criminal rehabilitation. The major difference between the two is the validity, Temporary resident permit, as the name suggests, is the temporary solution. Criminal rehabilitation, on the other hand, is the permanent solution.

Criminal rehabilitation

To be eligible for criminal rehabilitation, there are certain requirements you must meet regarding the waiting period, severity of the offence, the number of your offence, your rate of recidivism, and many more. Criminal rehabilitation applications take approximately 12 to 18 months to process, depending on the nature of your offense.

Though, some individuals have an urgent need to come to Canada, and cannot wait 12 months for an approval. In this case, they can apply for a temporary resident permit at the port of entry, and can then truthfully tell the officer an application for criminal rehabilitation has been submitted to the consulate.

Temporary Resident Permit

In order to apply for a temporary resident permit, you need to have a compelling reason to come to Canada. You will also need to convince an immigration officer that you will not be a threat to the security of Canadians for the duration of your visit. You must also agree to leave Canada by the end of your authorized stay. When an immigration officer is assessing your application for a temporary resident permit, he or she will consider whether your “need” to enter Canada outweighs the “risk” you possess to Canada and Canadians. If your application is approved, you will then obtain a temporary resident permit for a specific length of time.

As previously mentioned, you may apply for a temporary resident permit at the port of entry.

Often times the officer will ask you some questions regarding your offenses. As a result, it is very important for you to know what questions the immigration officer may ask. When you are well-prepared for questions that may come up to you at the port of entry, you may have an increased chance to be admitted to Canada. In order to help you better prepare, we have listed some of the common questions you may encounter at the port of entry:

  • The main purpose of your travel to Canada
  • The length of your stay in Canada
  • What offence is on your criminal record
  • The severity of your offence(s)
  • The date(s) on which your offence(s) occurred
  • The date(s) on which you served your sentence(s)
  • Whether you have completed your sentence

When you are answering the questions, make sure you answer them correctly and politely. You will need to demonstrate your remorse, regret, and personal growth after the offense to the officer as well. Please note, the purpose of having a Temporary Resident Permit is that, you are acknowledging your criminal inadmissibility and trying to overcome it. As a result, you do not have to mention anything about how you were wrongfully convicted when you are answering the questions.

Essential Documents for Overcoming your Criminal Inadmissibility

For both Temporary Resident permit and criminal rehabilitation applications, the most important documents are the criminal background check certificate from every country you have lived in for over six months since the age of 18, and court dockets that indicate the sentences imposed on you. You will also need to provide proof of the completion of all the sentences. This can be fine payment receipt, completion of a treatment/program, completion of probation, and many more.

For USA applicants, you will need to obtain an FBI clearance certificate and criminal background check certificates from every state you have resided in for over six months since the age of 18. You also need criminal background check(s) from the state(s) where your offense occurred.

In order to fully address your criminal inadmissibility, you must provide your personal statement, fully describing the circumstances of the crime. The personal statement gives you the opportunity to explain to the immigration officer why you believe your crime is not part of a pattern of criminal behaviour and why you consider yourself as a rehabilitated individual.

Supporting Documents for Overcoming your Criminal Inadmissibility

There are many types of document that can be used to demonstrate your good character, or in other words, you have fully reformed. You may provide letters of recommendation from any public official or anyone with standing in your community.  Alternatively, you may ask your friends and family to write about your good character.

If you are traveling to Canada for a business trip, you may also include your business trip invitation letter, business trip agenda, and so on. If you are traveling to Canada for leisure reasons, you may provide your hotel booking confirmation, your plane ticket, invitation letter from the host in Canada, and many more. Remember, having a clear purpose for coming to Canada may help increase your chance of getting an approval from the immigration officer. Regardless of the purpose of your trip, it is highly recommended that you include an employment confirmation letter and your current resume to demonstrate you are a productive member of society, and you are a mature professional.

Contact Akrami & Associates

As previously mentioned, Canadian government is very strict when it comes to assessing foreign travelers’ inadmissibility. In order to compile a strong a temporary resident permit or criminal rehabilitation application, you will need to prepare for the correct documents. However, having to prepare all the required documents can very confusing and exhausting. It is also essential to note that this type of application is difficult to pursue on your own. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help prior to submitting the application. Akrami & Associates work and have experience with many different immigration matters. We have helped many of our clients create strong Temporary Resident Permit and Criminal Rehabilitation applications. Please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at 416-477-2545 for more information, or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advice.

With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!