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How to Overcome Inadmissibility to Canada

If you’re unable to enter Canada due to criminal inadmissibility, there are options available to you to overcome this and become eligible to enter Canada again.

For more information about inadmissibility, or for expert help and support with your visit to Canada, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our trusted legal advisers on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

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    How Can I Overcome Inadmissibility?

    If you’re deemed by Canada to be inadmissible, there are several pathways for you to become admissible again.

    For example, you may overcome inadmissibility if you meet Canada’s legal requirements to be deemed rehabilitated, which is when enough time passes from your original conviction that it is no longer a barrier to entry.

    Alternatively, if enough time hasn’t passed for you to be deemed rehabilitated, you may be able to apply for individual rehabilitation. This is when you can demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated from your crime and that you are no longer likely to engage in criminal activities, thus overcoming your criminal inadmissibility.

    Another route to overcoming inadmissibility is receiving a record suspension or a pardon, which sets aside your past convictions from other criminal records.

    Lastly, you may be able to apply for a temporary resident permit, which is a type of permit that allows otherwise inadmissible individuals to enter Canada if they have a valid reason to do so for a specified period of time.

    Why Might I Be Inadmissible?

    In accordance with Canadian immigration law, a foreign national may be deemed to be inadmissible to enter Canada for criminal, security or medical reasons.

    Criminal reasons may be if you’ve been convicted for serious offences such as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or if you’ve committed minor misdemeanours that are still on your criminal record.

    Security reasons may encompass things such as espionage, terrorism, or human or international rights violations.

    Medical reasons are for things that may endanger public health, endanger public safety or may cause excessive demand on health or social services.

    How Do I Know If I'm Criminally Inadmissible?

    The Canadian government have a few different guidelines to help determine criminal inadmissibility.

    General Guidelines for Criminal Inadmissibility

    You are deemed to be criminally inadmissible to Canada if any of the following apply:

    • You’ve been convicted of an offence in Canada
    • You’ve been convicted of an offence outside of Canada that is considered a crime in Canada
    • You’ve committed an act outside of Canada that is considered a crime under the laws of the country where it occurred and would be punishable under Canadian federal law

    If Your Charges Were Withdrawn, Or You Received a Discharge, Pardon or Record Suspension

    You may still be inadmissible if you were convicted of an offence and:

    • The charges were withdrawn or dismissed
    • You received an absolute or conditional discharge
    • You were granted a pardon or record suspension

    If the offence occurred outside of Canada, you may be inadmissible.

    If the offence occurred in Canada, you are not inadmissible.

    For more information about pardons and record suspensions, see the ‘What is a Record Suspension?’ section below.

    If You Were Convicted as a Juvenile

    If you were convicted as a juvenile (between the ages of 12 and 18) you will not be deemed inadmissible to Canada if you were:

    • Convicted in Canada under the Young Offenders Act or the Youth Criminal Justice Act (unless you received an adult sentence)
    • Treated as a young offender in a country that has special provisions for young offenders
    • Convicted in a country that does not have special provisions for young offenders but the circumstances of your conviction are such that you would not have received an adult sentence in Canada

    However, you will be deemed inadmissible if:

    • You were convicted in adult court in a country that has special provisions for young offenders
    • You were convicted in a country that does not have special provisions for young offenders but the circumstances of your conviction are such that you would have been treated as an adult in Canada

    If you require any additional assistance in determining if you’re criminally inadmissible to Canada, don’t hesitate to reach out to our legal experts on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

    What Are the Eligibility Requirements to be Deemed Rehabilitated?

    One option to overcome criminal inadmissibility is to be deemed rehabilitated by the Canadian government.

    This means that enough time has passed since your criminal conviction so that it is no longer a barrier to your entry into Canada.

    Usually, all of the following will have to apply in order for you be deemed rehabilitated:

    • You only had one criminal conviction in total or committed only one crime
    • At least 10 years have passed since you completed all sentences given (such as payment of all fees, jail time completed, restitution paid, etc)
    • The crime did not involve any serious property damage, physical harm to any person, or any type of weapon
    • The crime you committed is not considered a serious crime in Canada

    The definition of a serious crime is one where the equivalent maximum prison term in Canada for the offence is less than 10 years.

    How Can I Confirm That I’m Deemed Rehabilitated?

    You do not have to apply to be deemed rehabilitated.

    However, it’s highly recommended that you submit an assessment form to a local visa office to confirm that you are deemed rehabilitated before travelling to Canada. Otherwise, you may be denied entry at the border if it turns out that you are still inadmissible.

    In order to be assessed, you will have to submit an ‘Application for Criminal Rehabilitation’ form (IMM 1444), ensuring that you check the box on the form that says ‘For Information Only’.

    You will need to fill in the form and provide all the necessary supporting documents. This will then need to be sent to your nearest Canada visa office.

    More information about the form and the required documents is discussed in the ‘How Can I Apply for Individual Rehabilitation?’ section below.

    After you send your application in, it will be reviewed to see if you can be deemed rehabilitated. The Canadian visa office will look at the following criteria when reviewing your form:

    • How many crimes you committed
    • The circumstances and seriousness of each crime
    • Your behaviour since committing the crime(s)
    • Your explanation of the crimes and why you are not likely to do it again
    • Any support you receive from your community
    • Why you think you are rehabilitated
    • Your present situation

    Fees and Processing Times

    It doesn’t cost anything to submit an assessment to see if you can be deemed rehabilitated.

    However, the processing time for deemed rehabilitation assessments can take six months or more to process, so it’s recommended that you submit your assessment form well in advance of your trip to Canada.

    If you are not eligible to be deemed rehabilitated, you will have to apply for individual rehabilitation.

    If you require any additional assistance in determining your deemed rehabilitation, get in touch with one of our legal experts today on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

    What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Individual Rehabilitation?

    If less than 10 years have passed since the completion of your criminal sentence, you may instead apply for individual rehabilitation rather than being deemed rehabilitated.

    You will be eligible for individual rehabilitation if you have either:

    • Committed an act outside of Canada and 5 years have elapsed since the act itself
    • Been convicted outside of Canada and 5 years have passed since the sentence has been completed

    In order to successfully apply for individual rehabilitation, you must also demonstrate that you have been rehabilitated from your crime and that you are highly unlikely to engage in any further criminal activities.

    How Can I Apply for Individual Rehabilitation?

    In order to apply for individual rehabilitation, you must fill in the following forms:

    • Document Checklist (IMM 5507)
    • Application for Criminal Rehabilitation (IMM 1444)
    • Use of a Representative (IMM 5476), if applicable

    In addition, you must supply the following supporting documents with your application:

    • Photocopies of:
      • Your passport
      • Court judgements made against you that show the charge, the section of law under which you were charged, the verdict, and the sentence
      • The foreign or Canadian laws under which you were charged or convicted
      • Any documents relating to the sentence imposed, parole or pardon, such as court records, judge’s comments, certificates of rehabilitation, a legal opinion letter, letter of recommendation, etc
    • Original copies of:
      • A criminal clearance from a police authority where you’ve lived for six months or longer since reaching the age of 18
      • If you were a juvenile offender, a document proving that the country you were convicted in has special measures for juvenile offenders
      • Receipt of payment of fees

    You must complete all of the necessary forms as truthfully and accurately as possible, as it is considered a serious offence to give false or misleading information in these forms.

    After you fill in the necessary forms, supply all the supporting documents and pay the fees, you will have to mail your application to your nearest Canadian visa application center. You may also submit your application for your visitor visa, study permit or work permit at the same time as your individual rehabilitation application.

    If you’re applying from inside Canada, you will have to mail your application to the nearest Canada Immigration Center.

    For more help and information in completing your individual rehabilitation application, including step-by-step support, get in touch with one of our legal experts today on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

    What are the Fees and Processing Times for Individual Rehabilitation Applications?

    There are two types of individual rehabilitation applications, each with their own fee. Which one you pay depends on whether you are inadmissible on the grounds of standard criminality, or serious criminality.

    If you are inadmissible on the grounds of standard criminality, the processing fee is CAN$200.

    However, if you are inadmissible on the grounds of serious criminality, the processing fee is CAN$1,000.

    You are deemed to be inadmissible on the grounds of serious criminality if the equivalent maximum prison term in Canada for the offence is at least 10 years.

    Processing times for individual rehabilitation applications take approximately 12 to 18 months to process.

    What Happens After I Apply for Individual Rehabilitation?

    After you send your application off, it will be reviewed by an immigration officer. They will make a positive or negative recommendation for it and forward it to the necessary authorities to be approved or refused.

    For more serious offences, it may be forwarded to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to make the final decision.

    Similarly to the process of assessing deemed rehabilitation, the following will be taken into account when reviewing your application for individual rehabilitation:

    • The number of offences and the circumstances and seriousness of each offence
    • Your behaviour since committing the offence(s)
    • Your explanation of the offences and why you are not likely to re-offend
    • Any support you receive from your community
    • Why you think you are rehabilitated
    • Your present circumstances

    If Your Application for Individual Rehabilitation is Approved

    You will be informed of the decision by writing. You will be granted rehabilitated status, and will no longer be considered inadmissible to Canada.

    Note that overcoming criminal inadmissibility is not a guarantee of entry into Canada. You will still have to comply with normal Canadian entry requirements when applying for a visa or a permit as a temporary resident after you overcome your inadmissibility.

    For more information about the entry requirements when visiting Canada, visit our dedicated page on visiting Canada here.

    If Your Application for Individual Rehabilitation is Refused

    You will be informed of the decision by writing.

    There is no formal appeals process for when your application for individual rehabilitation is approved. However, you will be free to submit another application anytime after you receive your refusal.

    Note that your application processing fees will not be refunded to you even if your application is refused.

    If your application was refused, it’s important to be certain why, and how you can successfully apply a second time round. For expert help and assistance, speak to one of our legal experts today on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.n 

    What is a Record Suspension?

    Record Suspensions are another route to overcoming criminal inadmissibility.

    Overview of Record Suspensions

    Another route to overcoming criminal inadmissibility is to be granted a record suspension (otherwise known as a pardon), or a discharge for your sentence.

    A record suspension allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.

    This can only be done if they have fully completed their sentence and have been a law-abiding citizen for a certain number of years since.

    If You Committed an Offence Outside of Canada

    If you were granted a record suspension, discharge or other equivalent in a country other than Canada, you may still be considered to be inadmissible.

    In this instance, you will need to check with your local visa office if the suspension you received is valid in Canada. This is so that when you arrive in Canada, the border services officer will have enough information to determine whether or not you are criminally inadmissible.

    You will also normally be asked to provide details of the following by a border services officer when at a Canadian port of entry:

    • Charges
    • Convictions
    • Court dispositions
    • Pardons
    • Photocopies of applicable sections of foreign law(s)
    • Court proceedings

    If You Committed an Offence In Canada

    If you committed an offence in Canada and you were pardoned under the Canadian Criminal Records Act, you are not inadmissible.

    If you haven’t yet received a pardon or record suspension, you may be eligible to apply for one with the Parole Board of Canada to overcome your inadmissibility.

    In order to be eligible to apply for a Canadian record suspension, either of the following should apply:

    • You were convicted of an offence in Canada under a federal act or regulation of Canada as an adult
    • You were convicted of a crime in another country and were transferred to Canada while serving that sentence under the Transfer of Offenders Act  or International Transfer of Offenders Act

    In addition to this, the following must apply:

    • You have completed all of the sentences given to you for your convictions, including all fines, costs, parole, statutory release, and probation orders
    • You have waited the appropriate amount of time after your first offence
      • The waiting period will vary from 3 to 10 years depending on the seriousness of the offence and when it occurred.

    It costs CAN$50 to apply for a Canadian record suspension.

    You will have to fill in all of the necessary forms and mail your application to the Parole Board of Canada for it to be processed and considered for approval.

    For more information about record suspensions and how to apply, get in touch with one of our legal experts today on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

    What is a Temporary Resident Permit?

    If it’s been less than five years since the end of your sentence and you have a valid reason to be in Canada, you may be eligible for a temporary resident permit (TRP).

    Temporary resident permits are also valid for those who are considered to be inadmissible on medical or security grounds.

    A TRP allows you to enter Canada on a temporary basis. However, the reasons for your visit must outweigh the health and safety risks to Canadian society.

    A TRP will only be valid for a limited time, appropriate to your visit. For example, if you’re visiting Canada to attend a family gathering, your TRP will only be valid for the duration of that gathering.

    TRPs cost CAN$200 each and should be applied for at your local visa application center.

    For more information about how to apply, and the eligibility criteria, visit our dedicated page about temporary resident permits.

    How Can Total Law Help?

    Working on overcoming your criminal inadmissibility in order to enter Canada can be a long and complex process.

    It’s therefore essential that you’re well-equipped with all the knowledge, tools and support you need in order to successfully overcome your inadmissibility.

    Luckily, Total Law can help. We offer close one-to-one support to people with their immigration issues, including criminal inadmissibility and other barriers to entry. We can help you determine what you’re eligible for and when, and give you step-by-step support throughout the application process, including advice on what to do if your application is refused.

    We can even liaise with Canadian immigration authorities to help check on the status of your application and keep you updated throughout the application process.

    For more information on the help and support we offer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our trusted legal advisers today on +1 844 290 6312, or contact us online.

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