Criminal Law and Canadian Immigration: Key Points

Canada, known for its diverse and inclusive society, welcomes immigrants from all over the world. However, Canadian immigration law is strict when it comes to individuals with a criminal background. Understanding the interaction between criminal law and Canadian immigration is crucial for those seeking entry into the country. This article explores the key points you need to know.

Criminal Inadmissibility

Under Canadian immigration law, individuals with certain criminal convictions are considered inadmissible. This means they may be denied entry or deported from Canada. The nature and severity of the crime play a significant role in determining inadmissibility. Some key points to consider include:

  • Rehabilitation: Depending on the type of offense, individuals may be deemed rehabilitated after a certain period. However, rehabilitation is not automatic, and it’s essential to consult with immigration authorities to determine eligibility.
  • Deemed Rehabilitation: Some offenses may be automatically considered as rehabilitated after a specified time has passed. However, this varies depending on the nature of the crime.
  • Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs): If you have a criminal record but need to enter Canada temporarily, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit. This allows you to enter the country for a specific purpose, such as work or family visits.
  • Overcoming Inadmissibility: In some cases, individuals may be able to overcome their inadmissibility by demonstrating that their entry is in the best interests of Canada. A compelling reason and a strong case are essential when applying for this exception.

Types of Offenses

Not all criminal offenses lead to inadmissibility. Some key factors that immigration authorities consider include:

  • Hybrid Offenses: Offenses that can be prosecuted as either a summary or indictable offense may have different implications for immigration. Consult with an immigration lawyer to understand the potential consequences.
  • Serious Criminality: Individuals convicted of a crime that carries a maximum sentence of ten years or more in Canada may face inadmissibility. Examples include robbery, aggravated assault, and drug trafficking.
  • Criminality Outside Canada: Canadian immigration authorities can also consider convictions from other countries. If you have a foreign criminal record, it’s essential to provide relevant documentation and details when applying for entry or permanent residence.

Consulting an Immigration Lawyer

Given the complexities of Canadian immigration law, consulting an immigration lawyer is highly recommended, especially if you have a criminal record. These legal experts can assist you in understanding your inadmissibility status and guide you through the application process.

Record Suspension

In some cases, individuals with a Canadian criminal record may be eligible for a Record Suspension (formerly known as a Pardon). A Record Suspension sets aside a person’s criminal record and allows them to reintegrate into society without the stigma of their past convictions. While a Record Suspension can improve your prospects, it may not necessarily eliminate inadmissibility concerns for immigration purposes.


Canadian immigration law is designed to protect the country’s safety and security. Understanding the interaction between criminal law and immigration is crucial when considering entry into Canada, especially if you have a criminal record. Consult with legal experts to assess your options, whether it involves rehabilitation, Temporary Resident Permits, or Record Suspensions. Being well-informed and prepared is the key to navigating the complex terrain of criminal law and Canadian immigration.

For more information and personalized guidance on your specific situation, consult with an immigration lawyer who can provide tailored advice and assistance in your journey to Canada.