Traveling To Canada With A Criminal Conviction

While on vacation in Banff, Canada I spoke to a local lawyer that enlightened me about their travel restrictions with a criminal record.  I have previously stated that a DWI conviction may preclude someone from traveling to Canada.  Nevertheless, all hope is not lost.

 Since the Goverments of the United States and Canada continually share information to improve their borders entry with a criminal conviction may be difficult. They have more information than ever on a person visting Canada. This may cause individuals with a criminal record to be denied entry, this is called criminal inadmissibility.   In most cases, individuals who have been convicted of an offense will require special documentation permitting them to enter Canada.

What is Criminal Inadmissibility?

Individuals, who have been convicted of an offense outside Canada that is equivalent to a Canadian Federal Offence, may be inadmissible to Canada. In order to make this determination, the Canadian equivalent must be examined along with its maximum sentence.

If an equivalent can be established is whether the conviction constitutes a summary or indictable offence. Most Federal offences are hybrid offences, which will render a person inadmissible to Canada. Having been convicted of one summary offence will not make an individual inadmissible. 

Individuals with one indictable offense on record (for example a DWI) are criminally inadmissible to Canada. They can overcome this in 1 to 2 ways:

·         Deemed Rehabilitated by the passage of time: More than 10 years have passed from the completion of all probationary periods and retirement of fines.

·         Criminal Rehabilitation Application: Individuals are eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation after 5 years have passed from the completion of all probationary periods and retirement of fines.

Either one of these possibilities ensures that prior convictions are no longer grounds for refusal of entry to Canada. The expungement of a conviction also renders prior offenses obsolete

If the proscribed time period before eligibility for Criminal Rehabilitation has not yet elapsed, individuals may wish to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit, depending on the gravity of the offense, the amount of time that has passed, and the reason for their need to enter Canada. These permits may be issued for 1 day- 3 years, or may be refused entirely. It is completely within the discretion of the individual immigration officer assessing the application.


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