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What does criminally inadmissible mean?

This term describes people who are not allowed to enter or stay in Canada because they have committed or been convicted of a crime. That crime may have occurred in or outside Canada.

Can I enter Canada if I am criminally inadmissible?

Normally you cannot enter or stay in Canada if you are inadmissible. However, there are ways of overcoming your criminal inadmissibility.

If you are inadmissible, you may become admissible again if you:

You may also be offered a temporary resident permit if:

Visits considered justified could include family emergencies or business conferences. Pleasure trips are normally not considered justified in the circumstances.

This permit has a processing fee of C$200. There are some fee exceptions.

What is the temporary resident permit fee waiver for criminal inadmissibility?

Normally, if you were convicted of a criminal offence, you can’t enter Canada without a temporary resident permit. This permit has a processing fee of C$200.

However, for some criminal offences (like minor public mischief or theft), you may be able to get a permit for 1 visit without paying the fee if you:

You can’t get the temporary resident permit fee waiver if you have convictions for:

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Canada is increasing the penalties for most impaired driving crimes. As of December 18, 2018, if you drive while impaired, you may be inadmissible for serious criminality. You won’t be eligible for the fee waiver. Learn more about the penalties for impaired driving.

As an inadmissible person, can I enter Canada more than once without paying the fee?

The fee for a standard (single-entry) permit will only be waived once.

If you want to come to Canada again, you should look at ways of overcoming your inadmissibility. If applicable, you could apply for individual rehabilitation before your trip.

I was only convicted of a misdemeanour. Why can’t I enter Canada?

To consider your admissibility to Canada, Canadian officials assess your crime according to Canadian laws. They look at the nature of the offence, how long ago the act took place and whether any sentences were imposed. A misdemeanour offence in the United States is not automatically considered an equivalent offence in Canada. The final decision about your admissibility rests with the immigration or border services officer.

How can I find out whether an offence outside Canada is considered a criminal offence in Canada?

This is a complex task as it involves comparing Canadian and foreign laws. While there are many pieces of Canadian legislation containing criminal offences, the vast majority can be found in the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The definition of criminality, when dealing with applicants who may be inadmissible, can be found in Section 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

I was charged with a crime in another country and found not guilty. Can I enter Canada?

Yes, as long as you are not inadmissible for any other reason. When a court in any country decides that you are not guilty of committing a crime, you are not criminally inadmissible for that crime and you can likely enter and stay in Canada.

I received a pardon for my crime. Can I enter Canada?

It depends. If you received a Canadian record suspension or pardon (as it was formerly called), you are no longer inadmissible because of that conviction and can likely enter Canada.

If you received a pardon or discharge from another country, check with the IRCC office closest to you for more information.

I was convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Can I enter Canada?

If you’ve been convicted of driving while impaired, you may be inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. This means that you generally can’t enter Canada. If that’s the case, there are options for you to enter Canada temporarily, or to become admissible again.

To enter Canada temporarily

A temporary resident permit (TRP) could allow you to enter Canada temporarily.

To get a TRP:

There’s no guarantee you’ll be allowed to enter or stay in Canada.

To become admissible again

There is a way you may be able to become admissible to Canada again. If you’re no longer inadmissible, you could enter Canada without having to get a TRP every time you want to come back. This is called criminal rehabilitation.

You can apply for criminal rehabilitation if:

If you committed an impaired driving offence before December 18, 2018

Tougher penalties for impaired driving came into effect on December 18, 2018. If you committed an impaired driving offence before this date, we’ll determine if you’re inadmissible based on the penalties in force at the time.

This means you may be inadmissible for criminality, and not serious criminality, unless you received a prison sentence in Canada longer than 6 months.

If you’re inadmissible for criminality, you may be eligible for deemed rehabilitation if at least 10 years has passed since you completed your sentence.

Find out more about overcoming your criminal inadmissibility.

I have been charged with a crime outside of Canada and my trial is still underway. Can I enter Canada?

No. If your trial is still underway, you are criminally inadmissible at this time and likely cannot enter Canada.

I am currently on parole. Can I enter Canada?

No. If you want to come to Canada, you must apply for individual rehabilitation at least five years after your parole ends.

What does it mean to be rehabilitated in respect to entering Canada?

A rehabilitated person is someone who satisfies an immigration officer that they are not likely to become involved in any new criminal activity. If you have committed or been convicted of a crime outside Canada, you may be eligible for individual or deemed rehabilitation to enter Canada.

For individual rehabilitation, you will most likely be asked to show that:

If you are outside Canada, send your application for rehabilitation to the nearest visa office. If you are in Canada, send your application to the nearest Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada office. You can use the same application in or outside Canada.

For deemed rehabilitation, at least 10 years must have passed since completing all imposed sentences for a conviction. This includes probation, fines, and any other conditions that were imposed. You do not need to submit an application to be deemed rehabilitated and there are no costs involved. If all the requirements are met, you would be admissible to Canada.

For more information, see Overcoming criminal inadmissibility.

How long will it take to get a decision on my individual rehabilitation application?

Applications can take over a year to process. Make sure you plan your visit in advance.

What is the processing fee for an individual rehabilitation application?

The processing fee is either C$200 or C$1,000. It depends on the seriousness of the crime. When you apply, you will pay C$200. We will tell you later if you need to pay more.

If my individual rehabilitation application is refused, will I get my processing fee back?

No. The processing fee is not refundable, whether your rehabilitation application is approved or not. If your application is refused and you apply again, you will have to pay a new processing fee.

When can I apply for individual rehabilitation?

You can apply for rehabilitation if:

Here are some examples.

In 1989, I was convicted of driving under the influence in the United States. I did not serve any time in prison and I have had no other convictions. Will I be allowed to enter Canada?

An immigration officer or border services officer may find you rehabilitated under a system called deemed rehabilitation. This system applies to people who, in most cases, have one previous conviction over 10 years ago. If an immigration officer deems you rehabilitated, you will likely be allowed to enter Canada, as long as you meet all other requirements.

On June 3, 2003, I was convicted of driving under the influence and had my driver's licence taken away for three years. When can I apply for rehabilitation?

Your sentence—which included the period your licence was suspended—ended on June 3, 2006. Count five years from the end date of the suspension or the date your driver's licence was reinstated. That shows you can apply for rehabilitation on June 3, 2011.

I was convicted of a crime on December 13, 2002. I received a jail sentence of three months. When can I apply for rehabilitation?

You can apply for individual rehabilitation five years after the end of your sentence. If your three-month jail sentence ended on March 13, 2003, you have been eligible to apply for rehabilitation since March 13, 2008, unless other terms—such as parole or probation—were imposed on your sentence. On March 13, 2013, you may be eligible for deemed rehabilitation.

I have one conviction, for which I am serving three years of probation. Can I apply for rehabilitation after my probation ends?

Yes, but you must wait five years after your sentence ends. Since your sentence includes probation, you can apply for individual rehabilitation five years after you complete your probation.

For more information, see Overcoming criminal inadmissibility.

What can I do if I want to come to Canada but do not qualify for rehabilitation?

You may be able to receive a temporary resident permit, if you can show that:

This permit would allow you to enter or stay temporarily in Canada.

For more information, see Temporary resident permits.

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