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TRP Canada

Canada immigration lawyer focused on helping Americans apply for a Temporary Resident Permit so they can travel to Canada with a criminal record. We offer free comprehensive consultations (unlike many businesses who demand a retainer before assessing your options).

Can Felons Travel to Canada?

Canada has one of the toughest borders in the entire world. Unfortunately, this means that an American with a felony record will typically have difficulty traveling there. Even a single conviction from a long time ago can result in a felon being denied entry by Canada.

Felons that want the ability to travel to Canada can apply for special permission to enter. This involves convincing the Canadian Government you will never re-offend and pose no threat to their country. Once it has been five years from full completion of all sentencing including payment of fines and any probation or parole, a US felon will be eligible to apply for Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation. If approved, the person's inadmissibility will be permanently resolved and they can be allowed to visit as often as they wish.

If a convicted felon is not yet eligible for a permanent pardon, they may be able to apply for a Canadian Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This is a short-term fix that requires an important reason for travel such as work or business. It is not easy to obtain a TRP with felony convictions, so many Americans with a criminal record avoid Canada until they reach the 5-year mark and can apply for Rehabilitation.

Want to go to Canada but have a past felony? Contact our law firm today for a FREE consultation.

So It Is Possible for a Felon to Travel to Canada?

If a felon gets approved for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation (CR), they can be allowed in Canada. Otherwise, if an American citizen has a criminal record that renders them inadmissible, they will usually not be allowed to visit even if they do not have any recent arrests. Applying for a TRP or CR involves a lot of paperwork and can take several months. Consequently, some felons just avoid Canada once they learn it will not be easy to gain access.

How Does Canada Know I'm a Felon?

The FBI shares their National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP then pass along this information to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Consequently, a visitor with a past felony from the United States can be immediately detected upon arrival at the Canadian border. Even ex felons who sealed or expunged their record can still run into problems at the border.

Can I Go to Canada with an Old Felony?

Unfortunately, a substantial percentage of felony convictions from the USA render the offender criminally inadmissible to Canada for life. If the equivalent crime north of the border is considered serious criminality, it can result in a border denial even 30 or 40 years later. Even if you are a good person who has stayed clear of the police for many years, if you are considered inadmissible under Canadian law you will be at risk of being denied admittance.

Occasionally an American citizen with a single felony conviction can be eligible for "Deemed Rehabilitated by virtue of time" status after ten years, but this is not common. For example: a person with a felony for possession of a controlled substance may be eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation if they can prove all sentencing was completed more than ten years ago. This would only be possible if there was no intent to sell involved (small quantity of drugs), and the individual had no other arrests or charges in their past including misdemeanor offenses. A qualified immigration lawyer should always be consulted before attempting to get into Canada with an old felony.

Can Felons Visit Canada If They Will Not Stay Long?

Canada's admissibility rules do not differentiate by length of stay. For this reason, US felons can be denied admittance by Canadian border agents even if they were only planning on spending a short amount of time in the country. For example: a convicted felon can be refused entrance at the Vancouver airport even if they will be boarding an Alaskan cruise almost immediately and therefore only physically present in Canada for a few hours.

If an American citizen is interested in being able to enter Canada with a felony, the best approach is typically to apply for a pardon or entry waiver. For US felons who are eligible, requesting a permanent pardon via Criminal Rehabilitation is typically better than applying for a TRP and can be a wonderful solution since it never expires and can cover a convict for many trips.

Can I Fly to Canada with a Felony?

Felons can have trouble getting into Canada regardless of how they arrive at a Port of Entry. Canada's admissibility laws are consistent across all border stations, so felons are equally at risk of being turned away at all land border crossings, Canadian airports, and even when arriving by ship. Flying into Canada with a felony can be particularly risky, however, as getting denied entry can be a disaster. Felons who are denied admittance upon arrival at an airport in Canada can end up stuck for many hours before there is an available flight back home.

Questions about traveling to Canada as a felon? Phone us now!

Felonies That Can Make You Inadmissible to Canada

The list of felony convictions that can render an American inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality is far too long to fit on this page. Below in a summary of some of the more common felony crimes that can prevent a person from being allowed in Canada.

  • assault
  • assault causing injury
  • assault with weapon
  • battery
  • domestic violence
  • DUI / DWI
  • eluding
  • theft
  • grand theft
  • larceny
  • grand larceny
  • possession of a controlled substance
  • possession of a controlled substance with intent
  • delivery of a controlled substance
  • sale of a controlled substance
  • drug trafficking
  • drug conspiracy
  • fraud
  • wire fraud
  • securities fraud
  • robbery
  • break and enter (b&e)
  • burglary
  • possession of stolen property
  • vandalism
  • obstruction
  • forgery
  • embezzlement
  • money laundering

This is just a small list of felonies from USA that can be problematic when trying to get into Canada. If someone was exonerated, or had their charges dismissed or dropped, the person may not be considered inadmissible by Canada but an experienced Canadian lawyer should always be consulted. There is no presumption of innocence at the border, so a traveler who is under indictment for felony charges or dealing with a pending case can also be turned away.

Is a Felon Allowed in Canada If They Have a US Passport?

Even if a felon has a passport, Canada's border officers can deny entrance. While a valid American passport can allow a person to fly into Canada, a felony conviction in their past can result in them getting blocked at the border and flown back home. Likewise, if a traveler arrives at a land border with a valid US passport they can still be stopped and turned around if agents detect the person is a criminal.

Can Felons Enter Canada If They Are Considered Low Risk of Reoffending

An ex-con planning to visit Canada can be baffled about why an old criminal record can still be a fiasco at border security. Since recidivism rates decrease over time, it is common for ex-cons to think they are in the clear after 20+ years. Under Canadian law, however, even one felony conviction that equates to serious criminality can be grounds for a refusal at the border regardless of how long ago it happened and how much the person regrets their past mistake. Even if you got your voting rights back or had your gun rights restored in the USA, if Canada considers a felon to be criminally inadmissible they do not have to let the person in.

Am I Allowed in Canada If I Was Falsely Accused?

Life is full of surprises and good people can end up in bad legal situations. Hanging around the wrong crowd, for example, can result in legal trouble for a person who was not actively trying to break the law. America's criminal justice system can be brutal, and sometimes people plead guilty to a felony charge simply because they do not have the resources to fight it.

Regardless of whether or not you believe you were actually guilty of the crime, if you have a felony conviction in your past border agents can obviously be concerned. After all, CBSA authorities do not know much about you or the events that led to a felony. Your side of the story can always be presented in a TRP or Rehabilitation application. We have had clients that believed their charge stemmed from a false accusation, or a racist police officer, or other unique circumstances. Such information is typically best presented in an application to overcome criminal inadmissibility, however, not argued at the border. At the end of the day, if a felon arrives at the border agents may not be willing to listen to much he or she has to say once they determine the traveler is classified as criminally inadmissible.

Have a felony conviction in America and wondering if you might be allowed in Canada? Contact our legal team now.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Can I go on holiday to Canada with a criminal record?

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If you have any arrests or convictions on your record and need to visit Canada, call us today or fill out this form! 24 Hour Response Time!