Can felons visit Canada? Serious offences and admissibility

Criminal offences can make foreigners inadmissible to Canada. In our previous post, we went over the most common reason for denied entry to Canada – DUI. However, can felons visit Canada? What if you have committed a more serious crime like arson or narcotics trafficking? Does the legislation have anything to say about US felons or other foreign nationals with serious offences visiting Canada?

What is serious criminality?

This is covered under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). First of all, what is a serious offence? This means that a foreign national has been convicted of an offence outside Canada that would carry a maximum prison sentence of at least 10 years if committed inside Canada. In this case, they are deemed inadmissible due to serious criminality. Unlike other indictable offences with lesser sentences, they cannot be deemed rehabilitated after 10 years.

This also applies to committing an offence that would carry a prison sentence of over 10 years. The key distinction is the individual does not have to be convicted of the crime. We will discuss the reason for this in an upcoming post.

For example, let’s say a foreign national was convicted in Mexico of aggravated assault. Would he be inadmissible for serious criminality? To determine this, an officer would refer to the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC). Under the CCC, the offence of aggravated assault carries a maximum prison term of 14 years. Therefore, Canada would deny entry due to serious criminality.

Offences that are listed as felonies in the United States are crimes that would make you inadmissible to Canada without an application.

How can felons visit Canada?

Are you interested in visiting Canada with a criminal record? There are options that would let felons visit Canada even if the sentence is punishable by more than 10 years under the CCC. If you have a criminal offence on your record and are not sure or would like to learn how to enter Canada, contact us for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.

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  1. Elena October 26, 2016 at 9:32 am - Reply

    my husband was deported from toronto canada in 2012 for an abandoned refugee claim. in 2014 i filled an overseas application to sponsor him from israel. In 2015, after an interview he was denied due to serious criminallity and our request for TRP was not considered. We applead to federal court and the immigration council requested to withdraw the appeal and the file was sent back to israel for reconsideration. This time we submitted more evidence and requested exemption based on humanitarian grounds as we have a canadian born 4 year old child. This application was denied as well as the request for Trp. I dont know what to do…to appeal again and wait another year for another denial by a different immigration officer?

    • Paul Pardons October 27, 2016 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Elena,
      Sorry to hear about your difficult situation. An advisor will be in touch with you soon if they have not already.

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