Canada With a Criminal Record

Immigrate to Canada with a criminal record


When you get permanent residence in Canada, you have more privileges than refugees and temporary visitors. For instance, as a permanent resident, you can legally enter and permanently live in the country. That’s why it’s the most comfortable way to move to Canada. Fortunately, the Canadian government is always willing to accept new permanent residents.


On 30th October 2020, Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) even released a plan to get over 1 million newcomers to Canada over the next few years.


Interestingly, 60% of all the permanent residents recruited have been skilled workers. But what happens if you have a criminal record? Can you still get permanent residence despite it? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss today.


Can you apply for permanent residence if you have a criminal record?


Usually, having a criminal record exempts you from being eligible for permanent residence. Even if you apply, you can be denied entry – this is known as criminal inadmissibility. This usually happens when:


  • A criminal offense you were convicted of in a foreign country is also considered a criminal offense in Canada. This is particularly true if Canada considers your crime indictable. Such crimes are usually serious and are referred to as felonies in the USA
  • You have committed two non-indictable offenses in a foreign country. These offenses are usually less serious and are referred to as misdemeanors in the USA
  • You have been convicted of a crime within Canada


Apart from criminal convictions, there are a variety of other events that could lead to criminal inadmissibility. For instance, an arrest or charge in your home country could make you get questioned by the Canadian border authorities and eventually be criminally inadmissible.


Ultimately, while the most common causes of criminal inadmissibility are linked to infractions of a foreign equivalent of a Canadian Criminal Code, it can also be linked to a violation of any Canadian federal law.


Principal offenses that popularly lead to criminal inadmissibility


  • Fraud
  • Assault
  • Reckless driving offenses like Driving Under Influence (DUI)
  • Drug offenses like possession, consumption, production, purchase, or distribution


How to overcome criminal inadmissibility and immigrate to Canada


Even if you are deemed criminally inadmissible, this doesn’t mean that you can never become a permanent resident of Canada – there are ways that you can overcome this problem. These include:


  • Apply for criminal rehabilitation


By granting you a criminal rehabilitation certificate, the Canadian government allows you to get your past criminal record cleared so that you can enter the country. This is a one-time solution that doesn’t need renewal. To be eligible, you:


  • Have to have done something outside Canada that is considered an offense under the Canadian Criminal code and
  • Were convicted of, or admitted to committing the offense and
  • It’s been at least 5 years since you completed your full sentence


Usually, criminal rehabilitation processing fees are around CAD 1,000 for serious crimes and CAD 200 for non-serious ones. On the other hand, processing times are usually 6 to 12 months from the submission of the application.


  • Get a Temporary Resident Permit


A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a document that grants you temporary access to Canada when you are criminally inadmissible. You can apply for a TRP at any time, even when you’re still serving your sentence.


Ideally, you should only apply for a TRP if you’re planning to stay in Canada for up to 3 years. Interestingly, you can even extend this permit from within Canada. You need to be cautious of committing further crimes while on a TRP though – this can negatively affect your ability to finish your stay or obtain permanent residence.


Some situations that make you eligible to apply for a TRP include:


  • You were convicted of a crime in a foreign country that would be indictable if committed in Canada and would have earned you a sentence of fewer than 10 years
  • You were convicted of more than one crime that if committed in Canada would be considered several summary offenses
  • You were convicted of a crime in a foreign country that would be considered a hybrid offense in Canada and earn you a sentence of fewer than 10 years. In Canada, a hybrid offense that can be persecuted by either indictment or summary process


  • Get a legal opinion letter


If you’ve been convicted or have committed a crime before and you’re looking for a way to avoid being deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada in the first place, getting a legal opinion letter is the best option for you. This letter is usually drafted by a Canadian immigration lawyer and is addressed to the judicial authority hearing your case.


Within the letter, the lawyer uses sections of Canadian law to explain the consequences that a guilty verdict would have on you.


Editor in Chief - at | Website | + posts

Editor in Chief -

Dr. Montague John (PhD), is one of the World’s leading Canadian Immigration experts. Affectionately known as “Monty” he established more than 25 years ago and it has grown to be one of the most reliable sources of Canada Immigration information.

In 2022 Dr. Montague John (PhD) published his book, “How to Immigrate to Canada” as, which featured as Bestseller in its Category for several weeks. Montague co-ordinates all the qualified contributors at and serves as Editor-in-Chief.