Temporary Resident Permit

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) Help?

Call Toll-Free Within North America

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 Get Into Canada with an Old Criminal Record?

Many people know a recent conviction in the United States can cause problems when going to Canada, but what about an old criminal history? Could a traveler have border issues because of something he or she did decades ago? The answer is yes, Canadian border agents can and do deny entry to visitors that have criminal convictions from 20, 30, even 40+ years ago.

If the equivalent crime in Canada is potentially punishable by ten years or more of incarceration, a foreign national with such a conviction may never be considered "deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time" and could be banned from Canada for life unless they apply for special access. According to Canadian border rules, a traveler from America can be inadmissible due to one misdemeanor or felony conviction considered serious by Canada even if the event took place decades ago. Americans that are inadmissible due to an old criminal history can obtain permission to enter Canada by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation. A TRP can provide a person with special permission to cross the border for a specific reason, such as a business trip, while Canadian Rehabilitation is a permanent solution to inadmissibility that is very popular among tourists.

The maximum penalty for impaired driving in Canada is now ten years! This sizable increase is due to the country's strict DUI laws that were implemented several years ago to coincide with the legalization of marijuana. As a result of Canada considering intoxicated driving to be a serious crime, any American with a DUI that happened after the laws changed may now be denied entry regardless of how long ago the offense occurred. Yes, you read that correctly, a single DUI can now render a US citizen inadmissible to Canada forever! Even under the old laws, if a USA citizen has two or more DUIs they are often inadmissible to the nation for life. There is no limit to how far back the Canadian border checks for a criminal record; some people get denied entry because of old convictions from the 1980s and 1990s. Canada's border has full access to the FBI NCIC database, and can therefore instantly flag a visitor with an old criminal history in the USA as soon as they hand over their passport or Enhanced Driver's License (EDL).

Have a criminal record from the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s and want to visit Canada? Phone our team today for a free consultation!

Why Does Canada Care About Old Convictions?

Many Americans are surprised to learn their old misdemeanors or felonies could be a roadblock at a Canadian Port of Entry. According to Canada's border rules, if a foreign national has been convicted of a crime that could be serious north of the border, they can be classified as criminally inadmissible to the nation and denied entry regardless of how long ago the event transpired. If a foreign citizen has more than one misdemeanor or felony conviction that equates to a hybrid offense in Canada, but is not considered serious criminality, they can still be denied by border security even decades after the incidents occurred. Consequently, traveling to Canada with old DUIs or other misdemeanor convictions can be difficult unless a visitor first overcomes their inadmissibility with a TRP or Rehabilitation.

Entering Canada with One Old Conviction

If an individual only has a single misdemeanor conviction from long ago that does not equate to a serious crime above the border, they could be "deemed rehabilitated" and assumed safe by CBSA authorities if they can prove all sentencing was completed more than ten years ago. If a person has multiple convictions, or were convicted of an offense that is equivalent to a major crime in Canada, this shortcut will likely not be available. CBSA officers at the Canadian border can see all criminal charges and arrests from the US, even if they were dismissed or did not result in a conviction. For this reason, it is advisable to always consult a Canadian immigration lawyer before driving or flying there if you have any criminal history even if it happened decades ago.

It is important to note that an individual is not eligible for Canadian Deemed Rehabilitation by virtue of time until ten years have passed since completion of their full sentence, as opposed to ten years from the date of the actual offense or conviction. This means that the clock does not start ticking until after an individual has served all jail time, completed all probation, paid all fines or other restitution, and completed any mandatory classes or rehabilitation required by the court. For crimes akin to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, any court-imposed suspension of driving privileges is also counted as part of the sentence. This also applies to Criminal Rehabilitation eligibility, which requires at least five years to have passed since full completion of all sentencing.

Going to Canada with Old Felony

Regardless of how long ago their criminal record occurred, felons may always require an entrance waiver or Rehabilitation in order to clear border security and step foot on Canadian soil. Likewise, if an American has a DUI that transpired after Canada changed their laws in December 2018, the only way he or she can typically apply to overcome their inadmissibility is with a TRP or manual Criminal Rehabilitation; automatic Deemed Rehabilitation will rarely be an option even if the conviction occurred well over ten years ago.

Crossing the Border with Old Misdemeanor

If a foreign national has a single misdemeanor conviction that happened ages ago, they could still be denied admittance according to the nation's immigration rules if the Government of Canada considers it serious criminality in their country. Just because an offense was a misdemeanor in the United States does not mean the Government of Canada will not view it as a serious crime. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a popular example; a misdemeanor DUI or misdemeanor reckless driving conviction can now render a US citizen inadmissible to Canada for life. Since drunk driving can be prosecuted as an indictable offense in Canada and guilty offenders sentenced to as long as a decade behind bars, even a traffic violation for drinking and driving, such as DWAI in NY State, can result in an entry refusal at the border 20+ years later.

Old misdemeanors that are not serious crimes in Canada can also be problematic at the border if a visitor has more than one such conviction. For example: an American with an old misdemeanor for domestic violence or domestic assault and an old misdemeanor for shoplifting or possession of a controlled substance could get denied entry at the Canadian border even if the two offenses occurred more than 25 years ago. Americans that wish to travel to Canada with an old criminal record can avoid the risk of a border denial by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation.

How to Visit Canada with Old Conviction

Prospective visitors who are ineligible for international travel due to old convictions should consider applying for Criminal Rehabilitation instead of a Temporary Resident Permit if they are not in a rush to visit. This is because Immigration Canada prefers people to go through the more thorough process if they are eligible. The processing time for a Criminal Rehabilitation application is notably longer than for a TRP application, however, which is a factor that should be considered as some people may need to travel asap. It is not unusual for folks to apply for a Canada entry waiver (Temporary Resident Permit) and a Canadian pardon (Criminal Rehabilitation) at the same time if they hope to get across the border quickly and also fix their inadmissibility for good.

Multiple entry Canada Temporary Resident Permits can empower a person to come and go from Canada for as long as three years, but the permanent solution of Criminal Rehabilitation never requires an extension or renewal and ensures that authorities can never consider an ancient DUI or criminal conviction as a reason for denying entry. Serious DUI offenses, such as felony DUI hit and run, can pose additional challenges in many instances and even a single conviction from decades ago can result in a border refusal. A ticket for driving with a suspended license or leaving the scene of an accident can also hinder an American with a single DWI from being eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation after ten years. If you have ever been arrested in USA, it might be a smart idea to contact a lawyer for an honest assessment before attempting to enter Canada.

Traveling to Canada with Old DUI

Individuals with a single DUI that occurred before December 2018 may no longer need to apply for a Canada Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation ten years after their sentence was terminated. This is due to "grandfathered" Deemed Rehabilitation; even though a DUI is a serious conviction today, it was not always and a person's admissibility is based on the equivalent crime in Canada at the time of the offense. Since Canada DUI entry rules are not always clear, always consult with an immigration attorney before attempting to enter the country with such a conviction.

As a general rule of thumb, if the impaired driving offense happened before Canada changed their laws it is treated as regular criminality, but if it happened after the laws were updated it is considered serious criminality and the offender will likely be inadmissible to Canada forever. Americans that have more than one DUI, DWI, OWI, DWAI, OVI, reckless driving, dangerous driving, or similar conviction may also never be considered deemed rehabilitated because of time. Such foreign nationals will likely need to file paperwork to convince the Canadian Government they are safe in order to enter the country without risking a border refusal regardless of the age of their offenses.

Questions about entering Canada with an old record? Contact our Canadian law office now!

How Can We Help?

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!