A criminal conviction can make everyday life a little harder. It can prevent you from getting into college or moving up the corporate ladder, but many people aren’t as aware that a criminal conviction can inhibit their ability to travel the world as they please. Here in Minnesota, one of the most common questions we receive is about whether or not a person will be allowed into Canada if they have a criminal record.
We refer most of our clients who ask us this question to our friends across the border at Mamann, Sandaluk and Kingwell LLP, as they’ve helped a number of our clients in the past, but before we pass you along to them, we wanted to go over some of the basics of getting into Canada if you have a criminal record.
Will I Be Denied Entry Into Canada Because Of My Criminal Conviction?
Canada is pretty strict as to who they allow into the country, but that also doesn’t mean that a criminal conviction will automatically render you ineligible to cross the border. But let’s back up and start with the entry process itself.
There’s a chance that you’ll be denied entry into Canada even before you reach the border. If your criminal background flags in their system, you may be denied a visa or electronic travel authorization. Whether or not you need to apply for these access systems depends on what your intention is in Canada. For most of the folks we talk to, they are just trying to use their passport to head to Canada for some fishing or a hockey tournament, so they end up running into trouble with an immigration officer at the border. Not only can this be a huge waste of time and resources, but it can also be embarrassing depending on who you are traveling with.
There’s no way to guarantee that you’ll be admitted with a criminal record, but there are some ways to make it easier on yourself. For starters, let’s take a look at the crimes that can make you “criminally inadmissible” to Canada. Those crimes include:
- Possession or trafficking or illegal drugs
- Organized crime-related offenses
This isn’t the comprehensive list, but all these crimes suggest you should put some serious thought into ensuring you are allowed entry prior to traveling to Canada so you don’t run into trouble at the border. However, even if you have been convicted of one of these crimes, there are still ways to get in. Here are three ways you can apply for entry into Canada with a criminal record.
Temporary Resident Permit – A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) will allow a person entry into Canada for a set period of time as long as they state their valid reason of intent for entry. Activities like job requirements or visiting family would meet this criteria. To be eligible to apply for a TRP, you must:
- Have had less than five years pass since the completion of the sentence (including jail time, community service hours, probation and fee payment), OR
- Have had more than five years pass since the completion of the sentence, and you have not applied for, or have yet to received a decision on an application for criminal rehabilitation.
If you feel that you meet the above criteria, you can submit your TRP application along with a $200 application fee, and if it is approved you can enter Canada for a set period of time.
Criminal Rehabilitation – This is the permanent solution a past criminal conviction that would keep you out of Canada. In order to be eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, five years must have passed from the completion of your sentence. This means if you spent 30 days in jail and received four years probation, five years must have passed from the end of your four-year probation sentence. This document never needs to be renewed, and once obtained you should have no problem entering Canada.
Deemed Rehabilitation – There is also the possibility that the Canadian government will deem you rehabilitated if enough time has passed since your original conviction. If you were convicted of a crime like a misdemeanor DUI, and more than 10 years have passed since the completion of your sentence (again, this means 10 years since the completion of every single sentencing guideline, like probation), then immigration authorities may disregard your past conviction. It is not advisable to assume you will be deemed rehabilitated, and further action should be taken to ensure entry. Even if you fit this criteria, it’s best to consult with immigration lawyers like MS&K.
For more information, reach out to Appelman Law Firm or our friends at Mamann, Sandaluk and Kingwell LLP,