How to Enter Canada with Past Criminal Convictions

The rising cases of insecurity all over the world has forced many countries to come up with strict immigration rules in order to protect themselves from people who would harm the society. Canada is one of these countries with strict immigration regulations, which can see you being denied entry into the country if you have been convicted of a crime in the past. And with the ease at which government agencies share information nowadays, including criminal records, you might be surprised to find yourself being turned away at the Canadian border or other points of entry for having a criminal record.

Types of offences that lead to criminal inadmissibility

The Canadian border officials conduct thorough checks on people entering Canada to determine if they have a criminal record. If you have been convicted of an offence you committed, the official will likely deny you entry into the country. The following are some of the types of offences that can result in you being denied entry into Canada.

Misdemeanor offences

Misdemeanour offences are not usually considered when determining the criminal inadmissibility of a person entering Canada since they are considered minor. However, if you have several misdemeanour offences, the Canadian immigration officials might flag you as a high-risk person who is prone to committing offences and thus deny you entry into Canada.

Examples of offences that are considered to be misdemeanour offences in Canada include:

  1. Underage drinking
  2. Driving without insurance
  3. Trespassing
  4. Causing a public disturbance
  5. Possession of small amounts of controlled substances, for example, marijuana
  6. Public intoxication and disorderly conduct

Assault offences

People who have been convicted of assault in another country are usually considered criminally inadmissible when trying to enter Canada. This is because assault is considered a hybrid offence in Canada, which can be tried either summarily or through an indictment. Therefore, even if your conviction was classified under misdemeanour offence in the country for which it was committed, chances are that Canadian immigration officials will deem you criminally inadmissible.

DUI offences

Drunken driving related offences are the most common types of offences that result in people being denied entry into Canada. Just like with the assault offences, DUI related offences are considered hybrid offences in Canada, and thus are taken more seriously. Some of the offences that fall under this category include:

  1. Driving under the influence (DUI)
  2. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  3. Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
  4. Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated (OMVI)

In addition to DUI related offences, you are also likely to be denied entry into Canada if you have been convicted of driving related offences such as:

– Careless driving

– Evading arrest with a motor vehicle

– Vehicular manslaughter

– Causing injury as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

– Failing to stop at the scene of an accident

Drug offences

Drug offences are another reason that might result in you being considered as criminally inadmissible to Canada. The conviction can range from less serious offences such as possession of drugs and controlled substances to the most serious ones such as possession with intent to sell and trafficking drugs. When it comes to drug-related convictions, you should note that immigration officials could still deny you entry into Canada even if your conviction was classified as a misdemeanour. This usually occurs when the drugs involved are considered to be serious, for example, cocaine, meth, heroin, etc.

White collar crimes

White collar offences are another reason why you might be denied entry into Canada. Since most white collar crimes are either hybrid or indictable offence under the Canadian law, chances are you will be deemed criminally inadmissible if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any offence under this category.

Example of white collar offences includes:

  1. Fraud
  2. Identity theft or fraud
  3. Tax evasion
  4. Embezzlement
  5. Counterfeiting and forgery
  6. Insider trading
  7. Money laundering
  8. Cybercrime
  9. Bribery of judicial or government officers

Options for entering Canada with past convictions

Having a past criminal conviction can cause you to be denied entry into Canada, even if the offence you were convicted of was not serious. Fortunately, there are a number of available options that can help you to overcome the criminal inadmissibility. Below is a look at some of these options:

  1. Applying for Temporary Resident Permit

The Canadian Temporary Resident Permit is issued to people who have been deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada, allowing them to enter the country on a temporary basis. It is the best way of gaining entry into Canada if you have a past conviction, especially if you are travelling for a specific reason. Temporary resident permits are also very popular among people who have been convicted of DUI offences, for example, athletes travelling to Canada for a competition.

  1. Criminal Rehabilitation

Criminal rehabilitation is another option that is available for people who have been denied entry into Canada. It is a long-term solution (unlike the temporary resident permit) and is mainly used where serious offences have been convicted. It can also be used where you have been convicted of more than one minor offence.

When considering criminal rehabilitation, you should note that the process is quite long, and it can take you several months. However, after you are approved, the Canadian authorities will deem you to be rehabilitated, thus allowing you free movement in and out of the country.

  1. A Legal Opinion Letter

Sometimes when you are trying to enter Canada, the border officials might refuse you entry if they have any doubts about your record, even if you should be considered admissible under the Canadian immigration regulations. This usually occurs in situations where you are convicted of a minor offence that can be interpreted to be serious under Canadian law or arrested for an offence but not convicted.

Legal opinion letters are offered by Canadian Immigration DUI lawyers to help you explain to the Canadian border officers why they should not deny you entry into Canada. This is done by either listing discrepancies on the record, explaining why the offence should not be considered a conviction under the Canadian law, or giving reasons why the conviction (s) should not result in being denied entry into the country.


Having a conviction can result in you being deemed criminally inadmissible when travelling to Canada, thus denying you entry into the country. However, there are a number of options that you can use to help you overcome the inadmissibility, either on a temporary or permanent basis. And since these options involve long and complex legal processes, it is a good idea to hire a Canadian immigration lawyer to help you out, as well as increase your chances of successfully overcoming the inadmissibility.