Entry options to Canada with Criminal Record

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Entering Canada with a Criminal Record

If you are seeking entry to Canada and have a past criminal conviction, you will likely be inadmissible to enter Canada.

So what does this mean?

Canada will likely recognize it as if the crime occurred domestically. Therefore, any person who wants to enter Canada as a visitor, worker, student, or permanent resident will not be allowed entry into Canada if they:

  1. Were convicted of an offence outside Canada that is considered a crime within Canada;
  2. Committed an act that would be considered criminal in Canada but were not caught, charged, or convicted.

If this does apply to you, you will need permission to enter Canada by means of either a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation. The difference between these two primarily lie in the duration and urgency of your travel. Specifically, if you intend on staying in Canada temporarily or if your purpose of travel is urgent, we advise that apply for a Temporary Resident Permit. On the contrary, if you are seeking a more permanent resolution and intending on entering as a permanent residence, then we advise that you apply for criminal rehabilitation.

Criminal Rehabilitation

Criminal Rehabilitation is a process that allows an individual with a criminal record to permanently overcome their criminal inadmissibility for the purpose of travel to Canada. When it comes to criminal inadmissibility, a summary offence in Canada is comparable to a misdemeanor in the United States, whereas an indictable offence is similar to a felony. A conviction under either of these categories will make you “criminally inadmissible”. One thing to note is that in Canada, DUIs and dangerous driving are serious crimes warranting inadmissibility to enter Canada.

Accordingly, regardless of an individual’s purpose of travel – whether it be business, family, or leisure, he or she will be denied entry unless rehabilitated.

So what does it mean to be rehabilitated? It is where the offender has:

  1. Exhibited remorse for their actions, and
  2. Demonstrated that they have in fact overcome their criminal behavior.

The Canadian government wants to ensure that you do not pose a threat to the safety and well-being of the Canadian society; therefore it requires that you be rehabilitated prior to granting you permission to enter the country.

Having said that, you may actually be deemed rehabilitated already. To be deemed rehabilitated, a certain amount of time must have passed since your sentence was completed. Specifically, if over 10 years has passed since the completion of your sentence, there is a likelihood that you are “deemed” criminally rehabilitated, and thus may not need to apply for anything. Nevertheless, we recommend that you do so anyway to ensure that you don’t encounter any potential problems at the border.

Furthermore, if you are in a situation where you don’t qualify as “deemed rehabilitated” per se, however at least 5 years have passed since you completed your sentence, you are eligible to apply for “criminal rehabilitation”. As aforementioned, in order to even apply for rehabilitation, you must be able to demonstrate that you have acknowledged and addressed the criminality of your passed acts, are remorseful, and have not engaged in criminal conduct since your conviction.

Mind you, if you have been convicted of more than 1 indictable offence (felony), regardless of the number of years that have passed, you will never qualify as “deemed rehabilitated” and thus will have to apply for criminal rehabilitation.

Crime Committed in Canada?

If your conviction occurred in Canada, you will have to apply for what’s called a “record suspension” in order to become admissible to Canada. You may do so with the Parole Board of Canada (https://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/index-eng.shtml)

However, be mindful of the fact that if you have convictions in both inside and outside Canada, you will need to apply for both a record suspension and Criminal Rehabilitation in order to become admissible to Canada.

Temporary Resident Permit

If you are seeking entry to Canada prior to 5 years from the date of completing your sentence, you must apply for a “Temporary Resident Permit”. You can apply for this document either at the border (port of entry) or before you travel through the Canadian Consulate in the country where you live. For US, it would either be through the New York or Los Angeles Consulate.

Additionally, if you need to enter Canada sooner due to exigent or urgent circumstances, you will have to apply for a temporary resident permit as it is a faster option than criminal rehabilitation, which will typically take up to a year to process.


Regardless of which re-entry permission document you apply for, an officer will consider the following when determining whether to affirm or decline the request:

• The amount of your criminal conviction(s)

• The nature of your criminal conviction(s)

• Your acknowledgment and ownership of the offenses

• Your conduct since you completed your sentence

• The likelihood of relapse or repeating the offense

• Your present physical and mental state of mind

• The justification(s) or reason(s) you have furnished as to why you believe you are rehabilitated

What Documents are Required for Criminal Rehabilitation

To apply for criminal rehabilitation, you will need to submit the following documents:

  1. A completed application form,
  2. A statement delineating your conviction(s),
  1. A statement substantiating your rehabilitation,
  1. A copy of your passport,
  2. Letters of reference,
  1. Criminal Record from the court,
  1. FBI Criminal Clearance,
  1. State Police Clearance.

Submitting Your Application

Upon completion of your application, you will submit your Criminal Rehabilitation application to the Consulate in New York and your Temporary Residence Permit to the Consulate in Los Angeles.

Processing Time for Criminal Rehabilitation and TRP

The duration of your processing time depends on the nature and complexity of your case. Generally, it is reasonable to expect a processing time of 1 year for criminal rehabilitation applications. On the contrary, a Temporary Resident Permit can be obtained instantly at the port of entry.

Akrami and Associates

Here at Akrami & Associates, we have been very successful with helping our clients overcome their criminal inadmissibility. Such cases are detail oriented and document heavy, thereby demanding the expertise of a professional in ensuring a thorough and complete application is submitted. Not only will we help you complete all the necessary forms, but most importantly we will help you draft a compelling statement – which is of paramount significance to your case as the decision to affirm or decline your application is entirely at the reviewing officer’s discretion. Therefore, it is important to know exactly what the officer is looking for and we are extensively experienced with how to address their concerns effectively and obtain a decision in the affirmative.

With Akrami & Associates there is always a way