info from Noto – Border Crossing Info

Guests with criminal records

Visitors to Canada who have any kind of criminal record may be denied entry. Even if you have entered Canada before, new screening procedures may lead to you being turned back.

Many jurisdictions distinguish between more and less serious offences. The US, for example, classifies crimes as either felonies or misdemeanors. Canada makes a similar distinction with indictable and summary offences, with indictable offences being the more serious.

However, many offences can be treated as either indictable or summary in Canada, depending on the specific circumstances. This is important to know, since determination of admissibility is based on how the offence would be treated in Canada, not its status in the visitor’s home state.

There are three basic procedures available that can allow you to legally enter Canada if you have a criminal record:

Granted Rehabilitation

You can apply through a Canadian Consulate or certain border crossings to have your record examined by immigration officials. There is a non-refundable administration fee that is usually $200 Canadian but may be higher for very serious offenses. If the application is successful, you will receive a letter stating that you have been Granted Rehabilitation, and you will now be allowed to enter Canada freely any time. The application can be found here.

Deemed Rehabilitation

Under some circumstances, you can be Deemed Rehabilitated without having to apply for Granted Rehabilitation. This procedure applies if:

  • You committed a single indictable offence that would be punished by a term of imprisonment of less than ten years (based on how the offence would be classified in Canada) and have not committed any offences since. Ten years must have passed since the completion of the sentence, including any probation.
  • Or if you have committed two or more summary offences and five years have passed since the sentences were served and no subsequent offences have been committed.

Deemed Rehabilitation is generally determined by an immigration officer at the border, although it is possible to have a determination made in advance. This application is available at this link.

Temporary Resident Permit

At their discretion, immigration officials may admit someone who does not qualify for Deemed Rehabilitation through a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). It is normally issued for a single visit in extreme cases. More information on the requirements and uses can be found here.