If you have been convicted of a crime, you may denied entry into Canada. However, depending on your criminal record, and how long it has been since you’ve completed your sentence, you may still be able to travel to Canada.

People with criminal backgrounds are generally permitted to visit Canada, though there are a few things to keep in mind. While you may be allowed to visit, the process will differ substantially from those who don’t have a criminal record. There are two main ways to enter Canada with a criminal record asides from getting a legal opinion letter from your lawyer. We shall discuss all processes here.

The TRP is a temporary resident permit that allows persons with criminal records to enter Canada for a limited time. There are many reasons why you might need a TRP. For example, visiting family, attending a funeral, or going on vacation can all be great opportunities to use one. The TRP is the quickest way to gain admission, but it’s not permanent. It does not usually extend past three years.

The other option is to go through a process known as Criminal Rehabilitation, which can take longer but is more permanent. Which of these options is best for you? This article will guide you in answering this question. The information in this guide shall help you understand the procedures necessary to enter Canada if you have a criminal record.

What is a Criminal Record?

Criminal records are documentation of a person’s previous criminal behavior. A criminal record can reveal a person’s convictions, including those for minor offences like jaywalking and more serious crimes like murder or rape. A criminal record may reveal where the crime was committed, who the individual was with at the time, and what the person was wearing, depending on the offence.

The majority of criminal records are kept by the police and the courts, which means they are open to the public. It is an individual’s history of arrests, charges, and convictions.

What types of offences would you do in order to have a criminal record? The simple answer is that it could be anything. Even if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, such as driving under the influence (DUI).


How Can I Travel To Canada With A Criminal Record?

Whether or not your criminal record is enough to keep you from entering Canada depends on the type of crime you committed and, most of all, on whether or not you have been rehabilitated after your conviction. When you apply for a visa, an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), or when you arrive at a port of entry, you usually have to convince a Canadian immigration officer that you should be allowed to enter the country.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA); Canada’s foremost law on immigration and refugee matters, highlights three sets of crimes. They include:

  • Article A36 (1); Serious Criminality, which refers to committing a serious crime that would be penalized by a maximum jail term of at least 10 years in Canada,
  • A36 (2); Other Criminality, which refers to having been convicted of an indictable offence, including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and finally,
  • A37, which is concerned with organized criminality, covering those who have been a member of an organized criminal organization such as people smugglers, human or drug traffickers and the likes.

As a general rule, you will not be allowed into Canada if you have been convicted of these kinds of crimes. But the story doesn’t end there. If any of these apply to you, you can still get into Canada by using the TRP, Criminal Rehabilitation, or by getting a legal opinion letter. We’ll show you how these work.


Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a remedy that permits an inadmissible individual to temporarily enter Canada. The maximum validity term is three years. You must submit a TRP application to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) department, explaining why you should be permitted to enter Canada and why the benefits to Canada exceed the risks.

Citizens and permanent residents of the United States may submit their TRP applications upon arrival in Canada, or they may obtain pre-approval by filing their applications at a Canadian consulate. All other foreigners may apply for a TRP at a Canadian consulate.

Criminal Rehabilitation

This type of rehabilitation is a more permanent means of overcoming Canada’s criminal admission restrictions. As long as you do not commit more offences, your criminal record is no longer a reason to deny you entry to Canada once you have been rehabilitated. Two types of rehabilitation exist. These are deemed and individual rehabilitation.

According to Canada’s immigration rules, deemed rehabilitation indicates that enough time has passed since your conviction for your offence to no longer prevent you from entering Canada. Depending on the offence, if sufficient time has passed since you completed your sentence, you may be judged rehabilitated. In all situations, you can only be considered rehabilitated if the maximum jail sentence for the offence you committed outside of Canada is less than 10 years. Take the first step by checking your eligibility.

If this applies to you, you could submit an application for this type of permit. If you readily meet this criterion, you should be able to convince the immigration officer that you have been rehabilitated by merely presenting proof of this, together with any other pertinent documentation. It is not necessary to apply under deemed rehabilitation when it applies to you. This is because under the relevant immigration rules, deemed rehabilitation could apply to you, whether you apply for it or not.

Individual rehabilitation, on the other hand, must be applied for, by those who do not qualify for deemed rehabilitation. Here, you must demonstrate your lack of criminal propensity. if you were indicted of an offence from outside Canada that, if perpetrated in Canada, would be an indictable offence punishable by a maximum jail term of less than ten years.

Or if you were indicted of an offence or perpetrated an offence from outside Canada that, if perpetrated in Canada, would be subject to punishment by a maximum prison sentence of ten years or more, you could apply five years after the finalization of your sentence or the commission of the offence.

To apply, you must demonstrate that you fit the aforementioned conditions, have been rehabilitated, and are highly unlikely to commit new crimes. However, where you have been convicted for multiple crimes that would be punishable by ten or more years if done in Canada, you may not be able to enter Canada at all.

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Legal Opinion Letter

This is the final available option to get into Canada, despite a criminal record. Here, a lawyer will assist you with the process of getting in. What you do, is you get a letter of legal opinion. These letter will be drafted by attorneys who will explain the reasons why the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials, should grant you permission to enter the country.

Your attorney can explain that you are considered rehabilitated, that your violation was isolated or minor. Alternatively, your attorney can explain that there is no Canadian counterpart to your offence. These letters can be of assistance with your application for the TRP or rehabilitation.


The Next Steps

It is possible to travel to Canada despite having a criminal record; however, doing so would require careful planning. To begin, you must have an understanding of the gravity of the crimes you have committed. If you have a conviction that is even remotely related to a sexual or violent offence, it will be significantly more difficult for you to enter Canada.

Travellers who have been convicted of serious crimes in their home countries, such as drug trafficking, violent assault, or sexual offences, are not permitted to enter Canada without prior authorization. Even though it is a large country with a lot of beautiful natural attractions, Canada is experiencing more growth in its influx of visitors as well as immigration scrutiny. There are certain circumstances in which one might find the Canadian border to be less inviting than one might anticipate.

Although there are ways to mitigate the effect that having a criminal record has on your ability to travel to Canada, it is still best to plan ahead for the process because it can take significantly more time than other applications. This article was written specifically to assist you in comprehending what steps are necessary of you moving forward.


Don’t let your criminal record get in the way of your next trip to Canada. Schedule a free consultation at your convenience or call us at 1 (866) 972-7366 to learn more about your options.