Updated December 22nd, 2020

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 a felon visit Canada? What if you have committed a more serious crime like arson or narcotics trafficking? Can a felon drive through Canada to Alaska? 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). Serious criminality is when 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.

For example, let’s say an individual was convicted in the United States 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.

If you have a criminal record in the US for either a felony or misdemeanor, you will also need a Canadian waiver if you intend to drive through Canada to Alaska.

What application do I have to do?

There are two applications available for individuals who want to enter Canada, but are inadmissible due to having a felony on their record. 

The first application is called Criminal Rehabilitation, also known as Individual Rehabilitation. This application is suitable for individuals with more than one charge on their record, and also those with felony convictions. It is a requirement that 5 years must have passed since the completion of your sentence. This includes; probation, parole, fines etc. Once this application is granted you will be able to enter Canada for life for business or pleasure. 

For example, if you have a felony charge from 2013 and were sentenced to 1 year of jail and 2 years probation, your sentence would have been completed in March 2016. Therefore, you would be eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation in March 2021.

There is a lot of documentation required for this application and can take 4-6 months to gather. Gathering this documentation can be time consuming and stressful, as a lot of the documents have a certain period of validity before they expire – that’s where we come in! AllCleared has developed police partnerships over the past 32 years we have been in business, and compiling these applications has become second nature to us. 

You can start your Criminal Rehabilitation application approximately 4 months before the completion of your sentence. We will then be able to submit your application straight away once your 5 years have passed.

Once this application is compiled and all relevant documentation has been gathered, it needs to be submitted to the Canadian Consulate for review. The Consulate can take up to 12 months to review the application and grant the waiver. 

Once your application is granted, AllCleared will mail you the waiver and you are now admissible to Canada for life! You do not have to apply each time you want to enter Canada; you can simply carry your waiver with you, along with your Passport or Enhanced Drivers License and enjoy the freedom of travel.

If it has been less than 5 years since the completion of your sentence you are not eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation and will have to do a different application. This application is called Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

Despite having the word ‘resident’ in the title, this application does not allow you to live in Canada, it only allows you to enter for business or pleasure. This application is for individuals with one or more offences, including felonies. 

The process of this application is quite similar to Criminal Rehabilitation. It can take 4-6 months to gather all the relevant documentation required, but once submitted to the consulate they only take up to 6 months to review and grant the waiver. Once this waiver is granted, it allows you entry into Canada for a maximum of 3 years. The length of the waiver is determined by the Canadian Consulate on a case by case basis. They will take into consideration how long it has been since the completion of your sentence, the nature of the charge, your reason for entering Canada etc. You may be granted a one year waiver or the full three years. A 6 month TRP can also be granted but is very rare.

Once a TRP is granted you may enter Canada for multiple trips, up until the expiration date. You will have to apply for another TRP if you plan on travelling into Canada in the future, or if eligible, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. 

What if my trip is urgent?

If you have an urgent upcoming trip and have a felony charge, unfortunately there are limited options available. 

The CBSA border officer may allow you to do an at the border urgent TRP application, if they deem your trip to be of urgent importance. Some examples of this would be attending a funeral, wedding, business trip, or visiting an ill family member.

It is up to the officer how long they would like to allow you entry for. They can grant you a 6 month TRP or they could also just grant you a TRP for the duration of your 7 day trip, and you may have to check in with an officer on your way home.

It is recommended to bring documentation to the border with you in relation to your charge, a return flight booked and proof of reason for wanting to enter. AllCleared offers this service and it takes 4-6 weeks to gather all documentation needed. You can bring this package to the border with you when requesting entry. 

This is not a guaranteed application as the officer will make the final decision.

Normally CBSA officers will not allow you to do an urgent TRP application, if the charges are drug related or involved any violence. They are processed on a case by case basis and up to the discretion of the officer.

In conclusion, doing an urgent TRP application without the proper guidance can be stressful, costly and unfortunately is not guaranteed. If you have an upcoming trip, it is best to start a Canadian Waiver application approximately 1 year in advance to ensure guaranteed entry.

How do I start the Waiver application? 

If you would like to start the waiver application, or if you have a criminal offence on your record and are not sure which application you are eligible for please contact us for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.