If you have been pardoned for a criminal record, it may be possible to enter Canada without a Canadian waiver. However, a foreign pardon will not necessarily allow you to enter Canada. Not all pardons or expungements will be treated the same.
Canada will bar most people with criminal records for at least 10 years. However, a foreigner with a DUI or other record can apply for a temporary or permanent waiver if their pardon or expungement is not recognized.
Types of foreign pardon or expungement
Let’s say you visited Canada and were caught drinking and driving. You now have a Canadian record and want to go back to Canada.
If you were convicted of an offence in Canada, you can apply for a Canadian pardon, which is now called Record Suspension. If you have a Record Suspension, you can enter Canada. A Canadian pardon is obtained through the Parole Board of Canada. You do not need to be a Canadian to get a pardon for an offence that was convicted in Canada.
It’s important to remember that in order to qualify for a Canadian Record Suspension you need to complete the sentence and pay all your fines. You then must wait five or ten years to apply for the Record Suspension. The wait period will depend on whether it was:
For all pardons received outside of Canada, you should check first with the visa office nearest you. There are many different types of pardons offered in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
If your pardon completely erases the record, you may be eligible to enter Canada. For example, in the UK, your record can be automatically erased after a set amount of time.
On the other hand, some pardons don’t erase the record. You may receive a pardon in the United States, but the FBI will maintain a record of the offence. Or, your pardon only clears you for some jobs, but not others. Individual states in America have very different rules and their processes will not necessarily remove you from the national database. The Canadian border officers will refer to the national database when they investigate your background.
The term expungement is not commonly used in Canada. If you have a US expungement for a crime that you were convicted of, you will probably remain inadmissible to Canada. If you received any kind of discharge or diversion, this would be considered adequate grounds to establish that you committed the offence, in which case you would still be inadmissible.
However, if your record was expunged because you were acquitted, then you are likely admissible to Canada.
If your record was expunged because you were a minor at the time of the offence, you would also be permitted to enter Canada.
Evidence of Rehabilitation
If you are inadmissible to Canada despite your pardon or expungement, the Canadian officials my still be willing to take it into consideration as evidence of rehabilitation. This might be useful if you are applying for a:
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): If it has been less than five years since the completion of your sentence or if you do not have time to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. You can apply for a TRP at the border or Canadian consulate.
Criminal Rehabilitation: If it has been five years since the completion of your sentence, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This is a permanent solution to inadmissibility.
If you have questions about eligibility to enter Canada, contact AllCleared today for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.
Are you eligible?
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