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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

International travelers

and ways to overcome criminal inadmissibility

by Michael Scott

Canada is once again open for international travel. This ends the travel restrictions placed on foreign visitors in March 2020. We have seen restrictions lessened for fully vaccinated travelers. Effective April 1, 2022, fully vaccinated tourists do not need to complete COVID-19 tests before entering the country. This is good news, but visitors need to be aware of other entry requirements that still exist for persons who can be deemed inadmissible on criminality grounds. It is possible for prepare in advance in order to lessen the chances of Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers detaining you or someone you know at a port-of-entry.

CBSA officers have the responsibility to screen travelers to ensure they comply with Canadian immigration law. If you have a criminal record, there is a chance CBSA officers can declare you criminally inadmissible and refuse you admission. American visitors in particular should be aware that their passport is linked to their FBI background record, which CBSA have access to on their screens. It is best to honestly disclose information when asked but it does not hurt to be more aware about potential challenges based on criminality.

Canada has a number of options available to foreign travels with a criminal past. The government provides travelers with different ways to overcome your criminal record and be able to enter the country. The country is not as forgiving as the Lord but has ways that individuals can be rehabilitated or apply if they do not pose a public safety risk to Canada.

One option open is the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). It is, as the name suggests, a temporary solution for individuals with some criminality, if you can provide compelling reasons why your criminal record should be excused, if only for a temporary visit. Some of the more common reasons for requesting a TRP is for humanitarian and compassionate grounds, such as family visits and for business trips. This solution is temporary and a better option is to seek a permanent solution to the inadmissibility.

Criminal Rehabilitation is a better way of addressing criminal inadmissibility. If Canada approved your rehabilitation application, your criminal record will no longer prevent you from visiting the country. But don’t commit any further crimes. You need to wait five years past the completion of your sentence, which includes parole time, etc., before you can apply for rehabilitation. Note that the Canadian authorities assess your crime and sentence against the Canadian equivalent for the crime. The fee you pay for Criminal Rehabilitation will depend on the severity of your crime. The application fee for non-serious criminality is $200 and rises to $1,000 for serious criminality.

If 10 years have lapsed since you served your sentence, then you can be “deemed rehabilitated.” If you are deemed rehabilitated, you are exempt from submitting an application for rehabilitation and paying the fees. You are advised to check with an immigration lawyer or consultant to find out if you qualify for deemed rehabilitation.

The third option is a legal opinion provided by an immigration lawyer, who can outline a summary of your criminal record and explain why you should be admitted to Canada. A legal opinion is recommended if you can be deemed rehabilitated or where you have been charged but not convicted of any crime, or a sentence has been deferred. It is worthwhile checking into your options.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: