The following piece was written by Daniel Kingwell, a partner at Mamann, Sandaluk and Kingwell LLP, where he has practiced in all areas of immigration law for almost two decades. He is a head of the firm’s thriving litigation practice, regularly appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board, and the Federal Court of Canada. You can reach Daniel by calling him toll free at 1-855-402-1845, or by email at email@example.com.
Recent border restrictions aside, many Americans can visit Canada with little to no preparation. Pack your bags, head to the border, and be admitted for a camping trip, a concert, or just to shop or have dinner. You will be waved through, like millions of others every year.
But for people who are “inadmissible” to Canada, it’s not so easy. If this is you, you will need a “Temporary Resident Permit” (or “TRP”) to enter the country. There are a number of ways in which you can be inadmissible to Canada. The following are the most common:
Criminal – While most people know that a criminal record can be a problem at the border, few understand how this works. On the one hand, even if you have a criminal conviction, you may not be inadmissible. On the other, even without a criminal record, you may still be inadmissible. How can you tell?
There are three main ways in which you can be found inadmissible for criminal offences committed outside of Canada:
- If you have a conviction for an offence that would be a federal indictable (felony) offence if committed in Canada;
- If the border officer has reason to believe that you committed such an offence, even though you were never convicted, or even charged; or
- If you have convictions for two unrelated offences that would be federal summary (misdemeanor) offences in Canada.
Upon entry, an officer will assess whether your foreign offence is similar enough to a Canadian offence, and if so, may find you inadmissible.
It is important to note that even if you have a pardon for a conviction, an officer may still find you inadmissible. The officer may take the pardon into account – but is not required to do so in every case. They may also take into account a conviction that has been expunged from your record.
But wait, you may be off the hook. For some foreign criminal records, an officer can find that you are “deemed rehabilitated”. If so, you would no longer be inadmissible, and free to enter Canada. But there are a number of strict requirements. You may be eligible if you have only one indictable conviction, but it has to be old (more than 10 years since the completion of the sentence) and less serious (carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of less than 10 years in Canada). You may also be eligible if you have only two unrelated summary convictions, and completed the sentences at least five years ago. If you think either applies to you, look into it further, as there are other requirements.
Of course, border officers are also concerned about criminal offences in Canada. You are inadmissible to Canada if you have a conviction for a Canadian federal indictable offence, or for two unrelated federal summary offences.
Misrepresentation – You may also be inadmissible for “misrepresentation”. This is where you were previously found to have lied to a Canadian immigration official, either by making a false statement, or by omitting important information. If so, you are inadmissible for a period of five years from the date of that finding (if the misrepresentation was outside of Canada), or from the date you were removed from Canada (if inside Canada).
Medical – A person may also be “medically inadmissible” to Canada. This includes people whose condition leads an officer to believe that they will pose a danger to public health or safety, or where the condition will cause an excessive demand on health or social services. In practical terms, this means that you may be denied entry to visit if you have a communicable disease, an illness that causes you to be a danger to the public safety, or if you may be hospitalized without adequate travel health coverage.
Financial – If an officer believes that you have insufficient means to support yourself or your dependents while you are in Canada, she may find that you are “financially inadmissible” and deny you entry.
Non-compliance – Lastly, an officer may find that you are inadmissible because the officer believes you will not comply with the conditions of your stay. This includes cases where the officer believed you may stay beyond the period allowed (six months, unless otherwise stated), or work or study without authorization.
While this summarizes the most common circumstances where you would need a TRP, you may need one in other circumstances. The important thing to know if that if you think any of the above might apply to you, or if you have any other concerns, you should talk to a lawyer before approaching the border. Give us a call. We can help.
In subsequent blogs, we will cover other questions around TRPs, including:
- What is the difference between a TRP and criminal rehabilitation?
- What are the factors they use to grant or deny TRPs?
- When and how should you apply?
- What do you need to apply?
- What does a TRP allow you to do in Canada?
- What are the dangers and pitfalls of applying for a TRP?