Criminal record dismissal canadian border crossing

Skip to main content Skip to "About government". About inadmissibility 2. Reasons you may be inadmissible 3. Overcome criminal convictions.

Rehabilitation for Persons Who Are Inadmissible to Canada Because of Past Criminal Activity

A Canadian immigration officer will decide if you can enter Canada when you: apply for a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization eTA or when you arrive at a port of entry. Penalties for driving while impaired If you drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, including cannabis, you may be inadmissible for serious criminality.

Document navigation Next: Reasons you may be inadmissible to Canada. Report a problem or mistake on this page. Please select all that apply: A link, button or video is not working. It has a spelling mistake. Information is missing. If you are on probation or parole you must follow the travel policies set by your probation officer to the letter, as leaving the country or even your locality in certain countries without permission will result in a violation. Generally offences committed in the destination country count more than offences committed outside of their country. The most common question on visa forms and arrival cards is if you've formerly been deported or refused entry from the country and often whether this has happened to you in any country.

If the destination country allows you to visit by just showing up at the border with your passport or even ID-card , unless you're currently wanted by the authorities, it's less likely you will have problems. If you on the other hand need to apply for a visa or something similar e. Requirements vary with the type of visa.

All countries that issue retirement visas require a criminal background check, basically a letter from police in your home country saying you have a clean record, and many countries require that for working, immigration or student visas as well. For a tourist visa, few if any countries check that carefully, but many do ask about criminal history, at least sometimes.


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If you are asked about your criminal convictions, you must and generally should answer truthfully. Any false statements could result in a lengthy or permanent bar to entering that country, particularly the USA or Canada. Other countries, like the UK and its former colonies, have a concept of "spent" convictions that do not have to be declared once the conditions for "spent convictions" have been met, and that is about the only time you can get away with not disclosing a conviction.

The list below describes how former criminal offenses may impact your possibilities to enter countries. There are also other issues that virtually always mean you'll not be welcome even if you don't have a crime record: being regarded as a risk to the country's public order, safety or health if they let you in, which among others include having mental health issues or carrying a contiguous disease. No questions about criminal history in the visa form or arrival card. Almost everyone needs a visa, but it's available as evisa, and for most nationalities on arrival.

No questions about crimes in the application form. Citizens of a few African countries and small island nations around the world get in visa-free, almost everyone else needs a visa, for most this means e-visa. In the visa application you need to declare "any offence under any system of law". Citizens of some African countries and small island nations can enter visa-free.

For those who need a visa, almost everybody can obtain it on arrival or as an evisa. The visa form doesn't have any questions about previous crimes or convictions. Neither the visa application nor the arrival card has any questions about criminal history. Unclear about the visa application but the arrival card doesn't include questions of this nature.

If you need to apply for a visa to enter or transit South Africa, you must declare former crime convictions, criminal actions currently pending against you, memberships of organizations whose activities are against the law in different ways in any country. In addition they will ask you about being removed from or refused entry into South Africa. Visitors need to complete a TC traveller card when arriving; this is mostly for customs issues.

The Argentinian visa application includes a range of questions about crimes from prostitution to genocide and jail terms of more than three years. No questions about your past in the entry and exit card nor in the visa application form , but after the form is filled out you may have to schedule an interview at the embassy or consulate.

While Canada's policies on criminal record are really strict any convictions no matter how minor or how long ago makes you inadmissible , it is possible to overcome the inadmissibility by submitting an application for "rehabilitation". This process can take a long time and requires numerous references to prove that you are in fact rehabilitated and that further offences are unlikely. If you do not want to wait that long and must go to Canada, you may be able to apply for a temporary resident permit; however, the reason must be justified and vacations are not considered a justified reason.

If you have been convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you will probably be found criminally inadmissible to Canada as this is an offence under Canada's Criminal Code. Frequently Asked Questions for criminal inadmissibility to Canada. All potential visitors, whether applying for a temporary resident visa or requesting landing permission at the border must be of good moral character, and under Canadian law this means having a completely clean criminal history.

Any offence, misdemeanour or felony, regardless of how minor or how long ago it took place could exclude you from Canada for a period of time or indefinitely. Some US citizens have been turned back while attempting to drive across the border. Bush needed to apply for a waiver to enter on an official state visit during his term in office because of a past D. There are a few exceptions, and if you are inadmissible because of a criminal conviction, you do have some options.

A minor misdemeanour what Canadian law calls a "summary conviction" may keep you out of Canada for at least five years from the date you finish your sentence. More serious offences "felonies" in US law, "indictable offences" in Canadian or British law may require you to wait up to ten years, or in the most serious cases obtain a pardon or other civil relief locally before applying for entry.

Some relatively minor infractions in other countries minor drug possession tickets in countries where they are not handled through the criminal system, or drunk driving in jurisdictions which treat this as a simple traffic violation are considered criminal convictions for the purpose of immigration law, as Canada's Criminal Code treats these as crimes. With the exception of crimes of conscience, even if you were prosecuted for an offence in that country which would not have been an offence in Canada, it would result in you being inadmissible.

Managing criminal records

Similarly, if you committed a violation that is considered a criminal offence in Canada but not in the country in which it was committed, that would also result in you being inadmissible to Canada. Even if you were never arrested, charged with a crime or sentenced it is possible to be turned away by a border guard on suspicion of criminal activity.

Additionally, you cannot enter Canada if there are current charges pending against you or a trial is under way. Although unlikely as a visitor who meets all other entry requirements, you may also be refused if you have significant unpaid debt, have an active civil judgement against you, or have recently declared bankruptcy.

This is more likely to be an issue if your nationality requires a visa to enter Canada.

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In these cases, you can regain your ability to enter Canada by either paying the debt in full, showing evidence of a payment plan in good standing or after a bankruptcy showing a history of financial solvency over the period of a few years. Offences committed before the age of 18, parking tickets, local ordinance violations and crimes of conscience such as publishing statements critical of the government in China generally do not result in inadmissibility. Similarly, non-criminal traffic tickets usually do not result in inadmissibility, although if you were ever required to appear in court over a traffic violation not simply going to court to challenge a ticket or you accumulated enough points that your license was summarily suspended or revoked, you may be inadmissible and should contact a Canadian embassy or high counsel for advice.

If you have a single misdemeanour or summary offence on your record and it's been at least ten years since you finished your sentence, and your offence could be punishable with a prison term of less than 10 years in Canada, you are deemed rehabilitated. Some offences are hybrid, so even some summary offences carry a possible 10 year maximum sentence meaning you cannot be deemed rehabilitated.

The burden is on you, the visitor, to provide proof that you have indeed reformed and are unlikely to re-offend. Possible proof includes but is not limited to:. Bring everything you have that suggests you're living a stable and crime-free life. The more documentation you have and the less the officer has to rely on your word that you've turned your life around the stronger your case is for being admitted.

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If you are turned away, or if your offence makes you ineligible to be deemed rehabilitated, you can apply for individual rehabilitation directly to Citizenship and Immigration Canada CIC. Again, at least five years must have passed since you completed your sentence.

An application for individual rehabilitation has onerous documentation requirements, costs between CAD and CAD3, depending on the nature of the offence and whether the application requires approval from the Minister of Justice all except the most straightforward misdemeanour convictions do and can take six to twelve months there are no guaranteed processing times to get an answer. While you can compile the documentation and submit the application yourself, both CIC and many who have gone through the process highly advise retaining an immigration attorney to complete and file the application on your behalf.

If you are denied rehabilitation, there is no right of appeal, you will not be given specific reasons as to why your application was denied, and you must wait at least one year before applying again. If you aren't qualified for either type of rehabilitation or are turned down, another option is a temporary resident permit , a one-time waiver for an inadmissible person to enter Canada.

This is not the same as a temporary resident visa , but the two can be applied for together if you are from a country requiring such a visa. These are very rarely granted - only for "exceptionally compelling humanitarian grounds" or "reasons of significant national interest". While this has been used or abused by a politically well-connected few including disgraced Canadian media mogul Conrad Black, who renounced citizenship issuance of these permits is rare. Unless you're dealing with a documented family emergency, can afford to hire a really good immigration attorney or have connections in Canada such as a Member of Parliament who can intervene on your behalf, don't even bother applying for one of these.

Obtaining a pardon or unconditional discharge will generally restore your ability to travel to Canada, and depending on your circumstances you may have much more luck going this route.


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If the crime was committed in Canada, there's a centralized process you can go through and odds of success are fairly high if you've shown commitment to turning your life around and kept your nose clean since then. If your pardon or discharge was issued for a crime outside Canada, be sure to bring documentation to that effect with you to the border or when applying for a visa.

Immigration authorities may perform a credit check and review your overall financial history as part of the character and risk assessment when applying for a visa or for landing permission at the border. Credit checks are not automatic for temporary visitors; they typically occur as part of a larger background investigation that results if the officer cannot ascertain your ability to support yourself.

Minor issues such as an occasional late credit card payment are not a major concern. That being said, if you have frequent late payments, chargeoffs, liens, repossessions, or a bankruptcy, in the past few years, definitely be prepared to explain yourself and having recent pay-stubs or other evidence of steady funds available for review is highly advised. On the other hand, if you are applying for any type of long term visa such as a work or study permit or are immigrating to Canada, your credit will be checked as part of the background investigation, and visas are occasionally denied for recent financial problems or just for having a large amount of unpaid debt, even if it's in good standing e.

Unless you can prove your credit problems were due to circumstances beyond your control e. If you have a civil judgement against you whether paid or not , or are currently a defendant in a pending lawsuit for unpaid debt, depending on the circumstances you may be inadmissible, contact an immigration attorney for advice.

If either situation applies, you are inadmissible and will need to go through the standard rehabilitation procedure prior to travelling to Canada. In addition to the requisite time requirement, you will also need to show that the debt in question is paid in full or satisfactory arrangements are in place to pay it.

Besides a criminal record, CIC lists a host of other situations that may prevent admission into Canada. While most of these shouldn't be an issue for the average traveller e. As a general rule, admissibility and rehabilitation decisions cannot be appealed beyond a supervisory review at the visa office or border.

The only exception is if you can prove the decision was based on wrong information for example you were acquitted of a crime, but that fact was never properly recorded.