• I Want To Go To Canada, But... I Have a Past Criminal Conviction
  • March 12, 2015
  • Law Firm: The Law Firm of Susan F. Fremit P.C. - Arlington Office
  • Have you ever wanted to visit Canada, but....? This Guide provides information publicly available from the Government of Canada to answer the most common questions American citizens with past adult criminal convictions have about visiting Canada.

    I want to go to Canada, but I want to bring my firearm(s)

    Unless the purpose of your trip requires bringing a gun into Canada, it is best to leave it at home. As firearms and weapons are restricted in Canada, you must declare everything in your possession to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at the port of entry into Canada. There are circumstances such as hunting or wilderness protection where obtaining the required licensing and registration requirements from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police may permit you to bring a weapon into the country. It is strongly recommended that you visit the RCMP's website or call 1-800-731-4000, to gather all of the required information, paperwork and permits before you attempt to cross the border. Remember, possession of unlicensed and unregistered firearms in Canada is a very serious offense.

    I want to go to Canada, but I don't think I'm allowed

    While the ultimate decision to be allowed into Canada resides with the CBSA officer that you encounter at the port of entry, there are many reasons why you will not be allowed into the country. The most common reasons for being deemed inadmissible to enter Canada include: being convicted of a crime or having committed an act outside Canada that would be a crime if committed there, having ties to organized crime or being a security risk; having serious health or financial problems; being denied a temporary visitor visa, rehabilitation or a record suspension by the government; and lying in your application or to questions asked of you.

    I want to go to Canada, but I was convicted of a crime

    Depending on what you were convicted of and when you completed all conditions of the sentence (fines, court costs, restitution, probation, drug/alcohol programs, incarceration, etc.), there are four potential avenues to potentially be deemed criminally admissible to Canada: obtaining a temporary resident permit or visitor visa; being deemed rehabilitated by a CBSA officer at the port of entry; applying and receiving individual rehabilitation; and obtaining a criminal record suspension.

    I want to go to Canada, but I was convicted of a DUI two years ago

    Any conviction that is equivalent to a crime found in the Criminal Code of Canada or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, such as a DUI can make you inadmissible to Canada. A two year old DUI conviction will require you to apply and obtain a temporary resident permit (also known as a visitor visa) from the Government of Canada to be admissible to enter the country.

    I want to go to Canada, but I need a temporary resident permit / visitor visa

    If you were convicted of a criminal offense and it has been less than five years since the end of your sentence, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary resident permit. If you are a US citizen, you will need to submit an application, pay a non-refundable $200 CAD processing fee, and have a valid reason to come to Canada (business trip, vacation, visit family or friends, etc.), in order to have your request considered. If you have served no jail time and have committed no other acts that would prevent you from entering Canada, you may be eligible for a one-time permit at no cost. There is no guarantee that a permit will be issued and you will want to remember that if the permit is issued, it will expire when you leave the country and can be revoked at any time during your stay. While the Government of Canada allows you to apply for a temporary resident permit online, it is recommended that you consult a Canadian immigration attorney familiar with this type of paperwork or speak to the Canadian Visa Office in Los Angeles or New York to avoid administrative delays and errors.

    I want to go to Canada, but I can't afford to keep paying $200 each visit for a visitor visa because of a DUI conviction seven years ago

    If you were convicted of a single offense, at least five years have passed since the end of your sentence (fines, court costs, restitution, probation, drug/alcohol programs, incarceration, etc.), and you have maintained being a law-abiding citizen, you should consider getting assessed for rehabilitation.

    I want to go to Canada, but I need deemed rehabilitation

    If you live in the United States, you have the ability to attend any Canadian port of entry and request a CBSA officer assess you for deemed rehabilitation. In order to be eligible for an assessment, you can only have been charged and convicted of one crime and five or ten years have passed (depending on the seriousness) since you completed all conditions of your sentence (fines, court costs, restitution, probation, drug/alcohol programs, incarceration, etc.). This type of rehabilitation generally requires more time to have passed than individual rehabilitation, but it is the much faster route if you're under time constraints. While you will need to bring several completed forms and mandatory documents with you to support an assessment, you may want to consult a Canadian immigration attorney familiar with this type of paperwork to avoid administrative delays and errors.

    I want to go to Canada, but I'll miss an important event for not being eligible for deemed rehabilitation

    If less than five years has passed but there is an urgent need to come to Canada and a temporary resident permit cannot be issued in time, you can fill out the required forms and check the "For Information Only" box. This will provide you with the opportunity for a CBSA officer to decide if you can get special permission to come to Canada temporarily. While you will need to submit several forms and documents with you to support an assessment, you may also want to consult a Canadian immigration attorney familiar with this type of paperwork or speak to the Canadian Visa Office in Los Angeles or New York to avoid administrative delays and errors.

    I want to go to Canada, but I was not deemed rehabilitated

    If you are not deemed rehabilitated by a CBSA officer at a Canadian port of entry, you will be denied entry and will have to formally apply to the Government of Canada for individual rehabilitation.

    I want to go to Canada, but I need individual rehabilitation

    In the most general terms, you are eligible to apply to the Government of Canada for individual rehabilitation if you were not deemed rehabilitated or you have only been charged and convicted of one crime and at least five years has passed since you completed all conditions of your sentence (fines, court costs, restitution, drug/alcohol programs, incarceration, etc.). This type of rehabilitation generally requires less time to have passed since sentence completion than deemed rehabilitation, but it is the much lower route as it can take over a year to have your application process. While you will need to submit several forms and documents with you to support an assessment, you may also want to consult a Canadian immigration attorney familiar with this type of paperwork or speak to the Canadian Visa Office in Los Angeles or New York to avoid further administrative delays and errors.

    I want to go to Canada, but I was convicted of a criminal offense there

    As long as you do not have a criminal record from another country, you can apply for a record suspension from the Parole Board of Canada, to address your inadmissibility to enter Canada.

    I want to go to Canada, but I was convicted of a criminal offense there and in the US

    Before you can fix your inadmissibility from your American criminal record, you need to resolve your Canadian criminal record. Therefore, you must first seek a criminal record suspension (formerly known as a pardon) from the Parole Board of Canada, regardless of the province or territory your conviction is from. If you received a record suspension or a discharge for your conviction in another country, check with the Canadian Visa Office in Los Angeles or New York to confirm if the pardon is valid in Canada. Once you receive a criminal record suspension or confirmation from the visa office of your record suspension or a discharge from the US, then you can consider applying for deemed or individual rehabilitation.

    Additional Information / Sources

    To contact a Canadian immigration lawyer, use the Law Society of Upper Canada’s lawyer database at: http://www2.lsuc.on.ca/LawyerParalegalDirectory/loadSearchPage.do

    For more information on visiting Canada, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/englisH/visit/index.asp

    For more information on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police rules, requirements and application forms to bring a firearm into Canada, visit: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/information/visit/index-eng.htm

    For information on offense listed in the Criminal Code of Canada, visit: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/

    For information on offense listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, visit: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/

    For more information on temporary resident permits / visitor visa, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/permits.asp

    To apply online for a visitor’s visa to Canada, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/apply-how.asp

    For more information on determining if you are inadmissible into Canada, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/index.asp

    For more information on overcoming criminal convictions to enter Canada, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/conviction.asp#a1

    For more information on rehabilitation for people found inadmissible to Canada because of past criminal activity, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/5312ETOC.asp#5312E4

    To obtain a copy of the checklist of documents and forms required to be assessed for rehabilitation, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/IMM5507E.pdf

    To obtain the application for criminal rehabilitation, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/IMM1444E.pdf

    To obtain the form for fees for immigration services approval of rehabilitation, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/kits/forms/IMM5310B.pdf

    For more information on the visa office in Los Angeles, visit: http://can-am.gc.ca/los-angeles/index.aspx?lang=eng

    For more information on the visa office in New York, visit: http://can-am.gc.ca/new-york/index.aspx?lang=eng

    To apply online for a record suspension from the Parole Board of Canada, visit: http://pbc-clcc.gc.ca/prdons/servic-eng.shtml