Canada welcomes millions of tourists, visitors, immigrants, foreign workers, and students each year. Many aren’t aware that a criminal record may deny you entry. Even minor charges and common convictions from years ago may make you inadmissible to Canada. Canada places a great significance on the security of its citizens by ensuring the country’s borders are closed off to anyone who may pose a risk. One of the ways Canada does this is by looking at your criminal background.

Under Canada’s immigration law, if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime in your home country, you may not be allowed entry into Canada unless you have acquired special entrance permission from the Canadian Government.  It is the responsibility of the traveller to be able to justify their admission into the country. It  is possible to be refused entrance even if you were found not guilty of a crime, as the Canada Border Services Agency can see any history of arrest, deferral, suspended sentence, or conditional discharge program. Therefore, until you fulfill all the requirements set out by the courts and receive a favourable outcome from them, you are deemed inadmissible and could be denied entry.



Types of crimes that can get you denied entry into Canada

1. Serious criminal offences are heavily scrutinized and can result in an outright refusal.

Any crime that is punishable by a maximum of 10 years or more in prison is considered a serious crime. This refers to manslaughter, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, and kidnapping, among others.

2. DUIs (including DWI, DWAI, reckless driving, etc.) are always serious, whether charged as a misdemeanour or a felony.

This refers to drinking alcohol while driving, or driving after you have consumed alcohol. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, chances are, you will be denied. However, Dismissed DUI charges are unique and dependent on a few factors. It is important to note that prior to December 18, 2018, one DUI or dangerous driving record dating back more than ten years was considered rehabilitated. Currently, it is deemed a serious offence, therefore it can never be rehabilitated simply by the passage of time.

3. Drug possession and drug trafficking are hybrid offences in Canada, which means there is potential for it to be treated as a serious crime.

Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) states that it is illegal to have drugs on you, on your property, or to give it to someone else with the intention of using the drug for your own benefit.

Drug trafficking refers to manufacturing and selling of illegal substances. Drug related charges like these are considered serious offences and can prevent you from entering Canada for a number of years.

4. Weapons violations or firearms bans are treated seriously in Canada as gun laws are much more strict.

This refers to violating laws that prohibit the manufacturing, buying, selling, transportation or use of firearms or any other deadly weapons. A weapons lifetime ban would make you inadmissible to enter Canada for life.

5. Theft or Fraud conviction in the US will be treated as the felony equivalent in Canada, regardless of how minor.

If you have been charged with theft or fraud, whether it is a misdemeanour or a felony offence, you would be deemed inadmissible to enter into Canada.

6. Assault, whether an unfortunate domestic situation or a drunken bar fight, can make your application risky, without solid proof of rehabilitation.

This refers to a number of different forms of assault such as simple assault, aggravated assault, or sexual assault. Regardless of whether the conviction is classified as a misdemeanour or a felony in the traveller’s home country, under Canadian law, they are treated as serious offences in criminal admissibility. Therefore, foreign nationals with an assault conviction on their record are always deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada.

All the crimes mentioned are considered to pose a risk to Canadian citizens. For that reason, if you are charged with any crimes that are similar in nature to the ones discussed, you will not be allowed entry into Canada. You can find a list of criminal offences in the Criminal Code of Canada and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.


Who is affected by criminal admissibility? 

Anyone with a criminal record wanting to enter Canada may be affected, whether travelling for work, recreation, or even to visit a family member. Many people don’t realize this until it’s too late and have to postpone or even cancel their plans including visitors in entertainment industry, airline staff, people travelling through Canada on a layover, and  Americans travelling through Canada to Alaska.


Who decides my criminal admissibility entry into Canada?

An agent with the Canadian Border Services Agency will decide if you meet the requirements to enter Canada. When making that decision the agent may consider:

  1. The type of crime committed;
  2. Whether you have committed more than one crime;
  3. The stability of your life: if you are employed, if you have family commitments;
  4. Whether you are likely to commit another crime.

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What can I do if I am not allowed into Canada because of my criminal record? 

There might still be hope for you to overcome your criminal inadmissibility and travel to Canada. Keep in mind, Inadmissibility is not equivalent to a permanent ban from entering Canada. Below are several options you can choose from in order to be allowed entry into Canada.

  1. Deemed Rehabilitation

You may be eligible for “deemed rehabilitation” if the nature of the charge is not violent, weapons, and/or drug related and ten years have passed. This would be a permanent solution that would allow lifetime entry. Although no formal application is required, you must assemble all of the court records to clearly demonstrate that they meet all the requirements. It is important to note that it is ultimately up to the customs agent to determine admissibility and that a mere arrest history can give them grounds to bar you from being allowed entry.

  1. Temporary Resident Permit

A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) allows you to visit Canada for a specific purpose and can be applied for at any point. This means that as long as you have completed any fines, jail time, and/or probation associated with the offence, you are eligible to apply. If granted, this application can allow you entry into Canada anywhere from 6 months to three years. This application is made through the Canadian Consulate and the length of the time you are permitted entry is decided upon them.

  1. Criminal Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation means that you lead a stable lifestyle and that you are unlikely to be involved in any further criminal activity. If five years have passed after your sentence is completed, you are eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This would allow you lifetime entry into Canada if approved. The application is made through the Canadian Consulate and can take up to a year to grant.

Find out more about the difference between TRP Canada and Criminal Rehabilitation.


If you would like more information about coming to Canada with a criminal record, applying for a TRP (Temporary Resident Permit) or Criminal Rehabilitation, contact AllCleared today at 1-866-972-7366 or check your eligibility online today.