Can You Go to Canada With a Felony Record?
Published April 22, 2022
In order to enter Canada, an American citizen must have been granted special permission by the Canadian government if their criminal record includes a felony. Even if the conviction occurred more than two decades ago, foreign nationals convicted of a felony may never be considered rehabilitated and may experience denial of entry at the Canadian border decades later. In addition, the Canadian border has complete access to all of the United States’ criminal record databases, which means that anyone convicted of a felony will almost certainly be flagged at the border.
How Can You Go to Canada With a Felony
While an officer of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has the authority to deny your admission to Canada, assuming you have a criminal record, if you prepare in advance, you can still enter the country. The Canadian government understands that people with criminal records are rehabilitable and may not necessarily pose a threat to Canadians’ safety. As such, it outlines three primary ways of overcoming criminal inadmissibility.
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a solution that allows an inadmissible individual to enter Canada on a temporary basis. It is good for a duration of up to three years. You must file a TRP application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), stating why you should be admitted to Canada and why the benefits of allowing you admission outweigh the risks. Citizens as well as permanent residents of the United States may submit TRP applications upon arrival in Canada or may get pre-approval by filing their application through a Canadian consulate. All other foreign citizens may apply for a TRP through a Canadian consulate.
In contrast to the TRP, rehabilitation is a long-term solution to criminal inadmissibility in Canada. Your criminal record will no longer prevent you from entering Canada once you have been rehabilitated, provided that you do not commit any more offenses. Rehabilitation comes in two forms.
- Individual Rehabilitation: If five years have passed since the end of your sentence, you may be eligible for individual rehabilitation. Depending on your conviction’s severity, there is a $200 or $1,000 application fee. In addition, you must show that you have fully rehabilitated and are no longer likely to do criminal acts in your application. This can be accomplished by demonstrating that you have a decent lifestyle, have taken steps to change your behavior, and/or that the offense was an isolated incident.
- Deemed Rehabilitation: If you were sentenced to a less serious crime and it has been at least a decade following your sentence, you may be eligible for deemed rehabilitation. Because time has passed since your last conviction, you’ll be considered rehabilitated. To be safe, you may still obtain a Legal Opinion Letter in case you are required to prove why you should be admitted to Canada.
Legal Opinion Letter
Your third option is to obtain a Legal Opinion Letter. The letters are written by lawyers and explain to CBSA officers why you should be allowed entrance. In addition, your lawyer can clarify facts such as whether you have been deemed rehabilitated, whether your offense was not serious or isolated, or whether your violation has no Canadian equivalent. These letters might be used to support your rehabilitation application or TRP.
Be Prepared to Avoid Difficulties
Can you go to Canada with a felony? Yes, provided that you meet the requirements of any of the options given above. It is important to note that preparing well ahead of your visit to Canada by seeking professional help in order to enter the country without facing major difficulties is in your best interest.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Before launching a career in SEO, she started as a content writer for various digital magazines and renowned publications. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.