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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 You Visit Canada with a Misdemeanor?

Any US resident or US citizen that has been arrested or convicted of a misdemeanor may be criminally inadmissible to Canada. When it comes to crossing the border, it is not the severity of the crime in the United States that counts, it is the Canadian equivalent of the offense that determines a person's eligibility. For this reason, many relatively minor offenses such as misdemeanor DUI or even reckless driving can result in a person being denied entry to Canada.

If the equivalent law in Canada is an indictable offense or hybrid offense, then even if the crime happened years ago a foreign national may not be permitted to enter Canada unless they have received special permission. There are two methods to get permission to cross the border with a misdemeanor, the short term solution of a Canada Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), or the long term solution of Criminal Rehabilitation. When issued a Canada TRP, an individual is allowed to visit Canada with a misdemeanor on their criminal record for a fixed period of time. Temporary Resident Permits can be issued for as long as three years, and can even be applied for at a Port of Entry in an emergency potentially enabling a person fast entry into the country. The Criminal Rehabilitation process can take as long as 12 months, but once complete grants a person with a misdemeanor permanent admissibility to the nation.

Going to Canada but have a misdemeanor on your criminal record? Contact us now for a free consultation.

Deemed Rehabilitation

Individuals with a single non-violent criminal misdemeanor on their record and no other charges may be eligible for entry into Canada once again ten years after completion of their full sentence. People with a felony conviction or several misdemeanors may never be deemed rehabilitated by virtue of time. Only those with one misdemeanor that is not considered a serious crime in Canada and that did not involve violence, weapons, or significant property damage are eligible. It is important to note that a person is only considered rehabilitated by the passage of time ten years after they finish their sentence, which includes payment of any fines or restitution, completion of any required courses, reinstatement of driver's license (if applicable), and termination of probation. It is common for people to mistakenly think they are allowed to go to Canada ten years after the date of the actual offense, as opposed to the date all sentencing was finished. This can, unfortunately, lead to them being refused entry at the border. In December 2018, Canada implemented tough new DUI laws that make impaired driving a serious crime punishable by as much as a decade in jail. As a result, Americans with a single misdemeanor DWI may no longer be allowed back into the country even after ten years without first obtaining special permission.

Can I Enter Canada with a Misdemeanor?

The only way you can cross the border into Canada with a misdemeanor that renders you inadmissible without a significant risk of being denied admittance is by earning Criminal Rehabilitation or a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). Otherwise, even a single alcohol-related driving conviction such as DWI, DUI, DWAI, OVI, or OWI can render you excluded from Canada. Even drunk driving pled down to a wet reckless driving or careless driving conviction can result in a denial of entry at the border. Drugged driving (DUID or DUI drugs) can also make a person ineligible for admittance into Canada. Other misdemeanor convictions that can get you barred from crossing the border include assault, burglary, resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance, theft, and unlawful possession of a weapon. Whether it is a misdemeanor drug charge or a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, crossing the border may not be possible without first assuring the Government of Canada you are not going to commit any crimes while in the country.

Crossing Border After Misdemeanor Arrest

Canada's border does not exercise a presumption of innocence regarding foreign nationals with arrests, which means that Americans can be instantly deemed inadmissible as soon as they are arrested for a misdemeanor such as drunk driving. If you have an open trial pending, you may require special government permission in order to be permitted entry regardless of the fact that you are still technically innocent of the charge since the court has yet to reach a verdict. This also means that people enrolled in a diversion program, or any other system involving a deferment of guilt, can require a Canada Temporary Resident Permit to get into the country until they have finished the program which can take years.

How Many Years After Arrest Can You Go Back to Canada?

After ten years from the date you completed your full sentence including probation, you may be eligible to return to Canada without the requirement of a TRP provided the offense did not involve a weapon or harm to others and is not considered a serious crime in Canada. Many people incorrectly start counting from the day of their arrest or the day of their misdemeanor conviction, but the clock only starts ticking towards Deemed Rehabilitation once a person has finished their entire sentence. Individuals are also only eligible for rehabilitation by the passage of time if they have a single misdemeanor on their criminal record that would be punishable in Canada by less than a maximum of ten years imprisonment. If you have a misdemeanor conviction that Canada considers potentially serious criminality, such as a DUI or DWI, you could be denied entry at the border even after ten years. Americans with two misdemeanors (or more) or a felony conviction can also be ineligible to visit Canada even if they have had a clean record for decades.

Class A Misdemeanors vs. Class D Misdemeanors

For the purposes of immigration, Canada does not look at the level of misdemeanor a person was found guilty of in the court of law. Instead, Canada determines an individual's admissibility by the Canadian equivalent of their crime, which means that a class A misdemeanor is not necessarily treated any different than a class B misdemeanor, class C misdemeanor, or class D misdemeanor.

Can I Travel to Canada with Misdemeanor Record?

Any foreign national with a criminal record, including a misdemeanor for driving drunk, may be turned away at the border unless they have entry permission. Even a wet or dry reckless driving incident can result in a border refusal when flying into Canada. In general, misdemeanors for speeding will not necessarily render an American criminally inadmissible to Canada unless it would equate to a more serious crime such as reckless or dangerous driving. Although it is generally much easier to get approved for a Temporary Resident Permit when you only have a single misdemeanor on your criminal record as opposed to a felony conviction, both types of offenses can cause issues when crossing the border. For example: both a misdemeanor assault conviction and a felony assault conviction can render an American criminally inadmissible to Canada, but if the individual applies for a Temporary Resident Permit or Rehab the likelihood of success will generally be higher with a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor Entry into Canada

A commonly asked question is "will Canada bar me because of a misdemeanor record?" The Canadian border does not necessarily care whether or not the crime was a misdemeanor or felony; they are primarily concerned about what the Canadian equivalent crime is. For this reason, you can be denied entry for many misdemeanors such as drunk driving simply because the equivalent crime in Canada is a hybrid or indictable offense, as opposed to the lesser summary offense. It also does not matter if you have any intention of driving while in the country, or will only be passing through Canada briefly such as a flight layover or a drive from California to Alaska. Even if you have a misdemeanor traffic ticket or have pled a DUI down to a lesser offense such as reckless driving, careless driving, or negligent driving, you can still be rejected by border officials.

Going to Canada with misdemeanor? Phone our Canadian immigration law firm today for a free consultation.

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