Entering Canada with a Felony (2023)

Any American that has a felony conviction on their criminal record may not be permitted entry into Canada unless they have received special permission from the Canadian Government. Even if the conviction happened 20+ years ago, foreign nationals with a felony may never be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time and risk being denied entry at the Canadian border even decades later. The Canadian border has full access to all the criminal record databases in the United States, so anyone who has been convicted of a felony will very likely be flagged at the border.

There are two ways to travel to Canada with felony charges or convictions appearing on your criminal record. The first option is a Canada Temporary Resident Permit, which is a document that enables a visitor with a criminal record to enter Canada for a limited amount of time. You can request a Canada TRP for up to three years, but you are required to have a valid reason to visit Canada in order for immigration officials to issue you one. The second option is Criminal Rehabilitation, which is Canada's permanent solution for criminally inadmissible foreign nationals. Once an individual has been granted Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation, their inadmissibility problem will be fixed forever, and they can be permitted to cross the border freely again. Criminal Rehabilitation is only available to people who have completed all criminal sentencing a minimum of five years prior, and takes up to one year to obtain.

(Video) Entering Canada with a felony conviction

Have a felony on your criminal record and wish to travel to Canada? Contact our legal team now for a free evaluation.

Can I Enter Canada with a Felony Arrest?

When it comes to the Canadian border, there is no assumption of innocence after a criminal arrest or charge unless a visitor can prove there is zero chance they will be convicted of the offense. This means that as soon as a US citizen or resident (Green Card holder) is arrested for a felony crime or placed under indictment for a felony, they may be criminally inadmissible to Canada even though they have not yet been convicted and could very well be innocent. Unless a person has proof of a favorable settlement or "no conviction" result, the Canadian border may refuse them entry if a misdemeanor or felony arrest appears on their record.

(Video) How to Legally Enter Canada with a Criminal Record

While participating in a diversion, probation before judgment, deferral, or other conditionaldischarge program, an American is typically still criminally inadmissible to Canada since they could potentially have a probation violation and end up convicted of the offense. Unlessthe probability of a conviction is literally 0%, Canada's border authorities can essentially treat the charge like a conviction.Being denied entry at the border is never a fun experience, so it is stronglyadvised that you apply for special entrance permission in advance of your Canadian travel if you have a felony criminal record rendering you inadmissible and you need to travelnorth of the border.

Can You Enter Canada with Felony?

Although the Canadian border strictly prohibits foreigners from gaining access to the country if they have a recent criminal record that equates to a hybrid or indictable offense, they are particular stringent on Americans with a felony. This means the absolute only way for a criminally inadmissible felon to ensure successful passage into Canada is to get approved for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation. Even if a felon obtains a passport successfully, they are still commonly excluded from visiting Canada without first doing special paperwork. Whether you have been convicted of domestic violence, fraud, assault, possession of a controlled substance, robbery, burglary, theft, drug dealing (selling drugs), conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, manslaughter, tax evasion,arson, vandalism, sexual assault, or any of the other felonies possible, an experienced Canadian immigration lawyer can help you apply for authoritative dispensation via a TRP or CR. Please note: if a possession with intent to deliver or distribute (PWID) charge is reduced to simple possession as part of a plea bargain, the equivalent offense in Canada could still be considered serious criminality depending on the quantity of drugs involved and exactly how it equates to Canadian law.

(Video) Denied Entry! I was Kicked out of Canada

Immigration officials are typically less likely to issue a Canada Temporary Resident Permit to a person who has been indicted on a felony charge compared to one who only has misdemeanors on their criminal record. This means a felon's application must be excellent in order to demonstrate to authorities that they are properly rehabilitated and do not pose a danger to the Canadian public if permitted entrance. Without official permission for entry, it can also be more likely that a felony record will cause a person to be denied entry compared to someone with a lesser conviction such as a petty theft offense. Entrance to Canada is always at full discretion of the border agent, andif he or she notices that a visitor is a felon, they will likely want to thoroughly screen that person before letting them in, which means the traveler will often be refused admittance and told to attain Rehabilitation before coming back.While a misdemeanor DUI and a felony DUI can both equate to the same crime in Canada, obviously a felony conviction is going to be more concerning to Canadian immigration authorities.

Can a Felon Get into Canada After 10 Years?

Felons who attempt to cross the international border between Canada and the United States of America may risk being denied entry due to criminal inadmissibility, even if their criminal conviction happened 20 or 30 years ago. Foreign nationals with felonies on their record may never be "deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time", and can be stopped at the border and sent home regardless of how long ago their crimes occurred. Admissibility to Canada is determined by the severity of the equivalent crime north of the border, and if the Canadian equivalency is punishable by a maximum imprisonment of ten years or more, the individual does not qualify for automatic Deemed Rehabilitation. Felons who are adequately prepared to go to Canada, however, may enter the country by way of a Temporary Resident Permit or Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation.

(Video) Can I Travel to Canada with a Criminal Record?

I Had a Felony 20 Years Ago Can I Go to Canada?

Trying to enter Canada with a 20 year-old felony can still be an issue for a US citizen unless they have received special permission from Immigration Canada.This is because a single felony conviction that equates to a serious criminal offense above the border can result in a lifetime ban. Our law firm has helped several clients who were denied entry to Canada because of a 30 year-old felony, so there really is no limit on how far back they check.Although it is often easier to get into Canada with a misdemeanor verses a felony conviction, even if a felony was eventually reduced to a misdemeanor it can still result in a permanent ban from Canada if the equivalent crime in their country is serious.For example, a felony drug crime that was later lowered down can still equate to serious criminality in Canada.

Should I Retain a Temporary Resident Permit Lawyer?

Many foreign nationals that are unable to travel to Canada due to a criminal record retain the services of a Canadian immigration attorney in order to obtain permission to visit the country. Hiring a lawyer is strongly advised for individuals that have a felony conviction on their record as it will often be significantly more difficult to get approved for admission into Canada compared to a single misdemeanor. An experienced lawyer can maximize your chances of being allowed to enter Canada with a felony by professionally preparing your Criminal Rehabilitation or Temporary Resident Permit application. A Criminal Rehabilitation attorney can also ensure that such an application includes all the required supporting documentation, as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) asks for a significant volume of information and documents including an FBI background check.

(Video) Criminal Rehabilitation Application to Enter Canada | Ep. 1


How long after a felony can you go to Canada? ›

You can be “deemed rehabilitated” if enough time has passed since your conviction, or since all conditions of your sentence have been met. The standard amount of time is 10 years. So if it has been 10 years or more since you committed a crime or completed a sentence for a crime, you may be able to enter Canada.

What felonies stop you from going to Canada? ›

The Immigration Act specifically bars felons from entry to Canada. Other offenses that can keep a person from being able to enter Canada include reckless driving, misdemeanor drug possession, any type of felony, domestic violence and shoplifting.

What criminal charges disqualify you from entering Canada? ›

Crimes That Can Make You Inadmissible to Canada
  • DUI (including DWI, DWAI, reckless driving, etc.)
  • theft.
  • drug trafficking.
  • drug possession.
  • weapons violations.
  • assault.
  • probation violations.
  • domestic violence.

Does Canada check US criminal records? ›

When Americans travel across the border into Canada, the border officers will be able to see their criminal records. To guarantee the safety of its citizens, Canada and the United States exchange criminal background information via travel documents.

What countries ban felons? ›

Those convicted of felonies in the United States often have difficulty entering other countries. Such countries as Australia, Canada, and Japan restrict access to travelers with criminal records.

Do they check everyone at Canadian border? ›

Canada Border Services Agency ( CBSA ) officers, under the Customs Act , have the authority to examine all goods that cross the border. This means that, just like your luggage, our officers can examine your cell phones, tablets, laptops and any other digital device you are carrying.

How far back does a background check go in Canada? ›

There is no limit to how long ago Canadian border officials can see USA criminal offenses, and we have worked with clients who were denied entry to Canada because of convictions from as far back as the 1960s and 1970s.

Can a U.S. felon travel to Canada? ›

Any American that has a felony conviction on their criminal record may not be permitted entry into Canada unless they have received special permission from the Canadian Government.

What do they check at the Canadian border? ›

When you enter Canada, a border services officer will ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if you are arriving from a country for which one is required. Visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website to learn more about what travel documents are required.

Will Canada let me in with a record? ›

Can I Travel to Canada with Criminal Record? Any US citizen or US resident that has a criminal record may be denied entry to Canada because of criminal inadmissibility.

Can felons leave the US? ›

Yes, convicted felons can leave the country. They can get valid passports to travel out of the country. Fortunately, you still have the right to get a passport if you were convicted of a felony. However, you can only get a passport from the US authority to leave the country under certain circumstances.

Can felons get a passport? ›

According to USA Today, most felons can get a passport without a problem. This is assuming a person is not currently awaiting trial, on probation or parole or otherwise banned from leaving the country.

What do border agents see when they scan your passport? ›

That chip holds biometric information that's printed on the picture page - name, date of birth, sex, nationality, date of issue, passport number, and photograph. The machine readable zone (below the photograph) also holds encoded identity information.

What do they check when you cross the border? ›

Additional Information an Officer Can Get About You

If an officer believes there is a reason to get even more information about you, they may be able to get: Any criminal history you have. Your citizenship status. Employment information.

What happens if you get denied at the Canadian border? ›

If denied, you will not be allowed to enter Canada until you have received an approval from a Canadian consulate. If you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you will need to apply for a temporary resident permit based on the guidelines set out by your specific country, as the application form may be different.

What shows up on a Canadian background check? ›

For example, a criminal record check confirming a record exists may include: A full record check, personal information, all convictions and charges that did not lead to a conviction. Personal information and only a conviction history. A statement that a criminal record exists.

What do they check in background check Canada? ›

Your work history, identity, financial, and criminal status may be scrutinized as part of the process. Employers who conduct background checks want to confirm details about you and see if you present a risk to them.

What do you see on a background check for immigration Canada? ›

The Government of Canada requires all immigration applicants to include a background check.
Changes to information such as:
  • Residential address.
  • Employment status.
  • Contact information (e-mail address, phone number, etc)
  • Marital status.
  • Education.
  • Family details (newborn, death, etc)

How does Canada immigration check criminal records? ›

We use police certificates to find out if you have a criminal record. They help visa officers make sure you aren't a security risk to Canada. You must get a police certificate if you're applying for permanent residence or Canadian citizenship.

What makes you inadmissible to Canada? ›

In general, you cannot travel to Canada if you have a criminal record. However, you may still be admissible to Canada if you are deemed rehabilitated. You may also be allowed to travel to Canada if you apply and are accepted for criminal rehabilitation, or if you apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP).

Do charges show on background check Canada? ›

Types of Record Checks

Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check – includes applicable criminal convictions, findings of guilt under the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act, absolute and conditional discharges, outstanding charges, arrest warrants, certain judicial orders.

Can you enter Canada with pending criminal charges? ›

Travelling to Canada with pending criminal charges is possible, but you must prove that you are fighting the charges and should be allowed into the country. As you may be aware, individuals with a criminal conviction on their record are generally inadmissible to Canada.

Can Border Control see criminal records? ›

The United States authorities are able to seek details of any criminal convictions held on the Police National Computer on an individual basis through Interpol channels.

Can a US citizen be denied entry to Canada? ›

Any person that attempts to cross the Canadian border from the United States while inadmissible to the country for any reason may be denied entrance. There are many reasons why an American can be denied entry into Canada, and we have listed all the major ones below.

What crimes affect immigration in Canada? ›

Under Canada's immigration law, if you have committed or been convicted of a crime, you may not be allowed into Canada.
Overcome criminal convictions
  • theft,
  • assault,
  • manslaughter,
  • dangerous driving,
  • driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and.
  • possession of or trafficking in drugs or controlled substances.
Aug 1, 2015

How do I get a pardon to enter Canada? ›

Pardons are granted by the Parole Board of Canada. You must complete your sentence then meet specific eligibility criteria. Once you have determined that you meet the standards set by the Parole Board you must prepare the application.

Does your criminal record clear after 7 years in Canada? ›

a summary offence: We destroy your record three years after you complete your sentence. an indictable offence: We seal your record five years after you complete your sentence.

What does background check include for Canada immigration? ›

Background checks are used to verify information regarding someone's criminal record, education, and employment history. Criminal History Check – This stage of the background check confirms any past criminal activity, from DUIs to any registration in a criminal organization.

How long does a criminal record last? ›

If the person was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense (i.e. legally considered to be an adult), then the conviction will be expunged from their record 11 years after the conviction date (not the offense date).

What questions do Canadian border guards ask? ›

Interview process
  • Are you traveling with your family?
  • Have you been convicted of a serious crime in your home country?
  • How long do you plan to stay in Canada?
  • How much money do you have with you?
  • Are you healthy?
  • Have you been to Canada before? Were you required to leave?
Mar 12, 2019


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