What is Criminal Inadmissibility?

Admissibility: Admittance with a Criminal Record


Security and enforcement in both Canada and the United States has heightened in recent years. For this reason, US citizens with past criminal charges or convictions are refused entry to Canada. Canadians with past criminal charges or convictions seeking entry into the United States are denied entry reciprocally.

In Canada, you may be deemed criminally “inadmissible” if you have committed an offence that if committed in Canada would be an offence under the laws of Canada. This includes almost all misdemeanor and felony convictions such as DUI/DWI, Wet Reckless Driving, Reckless Driving, Theft including Petty Theft, Drug Possession offences, Bad Check, and other misdemeanor and felony transgressions regardless of how long ago they occurred.

Traffic violations, such as a moving violation or running a traffic light, will generally not render you inadmissible. Minor in possession (of alcohol) is also not in the Canadian criminal code and therefore will not render you inadmissible.

Being inadmissible applies to “everyone” including foreign students, temporary foreign workers, immigrants as well as tourists and business visitors, even if transiting through Canada on a connecting flight.

It gets zanier. Under Section 42 of the Immigration Refugee and Protection Act, “a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of an inadmissible family member if their accompanying or non-accompanying family member (spouse or dependent child) is inadmissible or if they are an accompanying family member of an inadmissible person” (slightly reworded). For example, a spouse is criminally inadmissible if her accompanying or non-accompanying husband has a DUI conviction on his record.

Other grounds of inadmissibility may include having a serious medical condition for which treatment may pose a significant burden to Canadian socialized healthcare.

If you think you are inadmissible, we recommend that you contact our office to determine your options. After you share your circumstances, criminal history and reasons to be in Canada, we will determine if you are eligible for a Streamlined Rehabilitation application at the border for immediate and permanent relief or qualify for a temporary waiver called a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) that can override your inadmissibility for a period of time. In other cases, a formal application for “criminal rehabilitation” at the consulate may be your only option moving forward.

    • Rehabilitation, whether streamlined at the border or through a visa post (consulate or embassy of Canada) offers permanent relief of your inadmissibility. An application for criminal rehabilitation is a thorough application that attests you have “changed your ways” and will no longer be a risk to Canada. For information about a permanent solution to your entry needs into Canada with a criminal record, click here.
    • A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), which can also be presented at the border or through a consulate, is a temporary pass that is granted after a thorough risk assessment and a determination that your entry fits within the parameters of a waiver program. To assess if you qualify for a TRP or for more information about our waiver programs, click here.

    A consultation will include a plan of action customized for you with the right supporting documents to present at the point-of-entry or consulate, as the situation may require. We will also determine if we can secure a permanent fix at the border or if a permanent solution requires a formal application through the Consulate.