YOU MAY BE CRIMINALLY INADMISSIBLE to Canada if you were convicted of a crime outside the country. Sometimes you may be inadmissible even if you were not convicted, if the immigration authorities believe you committed a criminal act outside Canada that also would have been criminal if committed in Canada.
If one is criminally inadmissible to Canada, Canadian immigration law prohibits your admission. Those who are outside of the country may not enter. Those who are inside Canada may be removed. Relief from this inadmissibility may be obtained temporarily by applying for and obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit. If you wish to be able to live in Canada, relief from inadmissibilty for committing a crime in Canada may be secured by obtaining a pardon. To permanently overcome inadmissibility for committing a crime outside Canada, you must establish rehabilitation. To be successful, before applying, you must ensure that you are eligible, and this usually involves the passage of a substantial amount of time.
As stated, the objective of the rehabilitation process is to address and overcome inadmissibility for out-of-Canada offences. It does not address offences committed in Canada. If you apply for rehabilitation to overcome inadmissibility for a crime committed outside Canada, and the application is granted, you may be admitted to Canada immediately without the necessity of ever having to establish rehabilitation again, unless you re-offend.
The usual forum for a rehabilitation application is a visa post, usually a Canadian embassy overseas, and the process of considering the application takes months – sometimes many months – to complete. The advantage of having rehabilitation applications determined at a Port of Entry – an immigration office at at an airport, border crossing or other point of entry to Canada – is that the process may be concluded very quickly, possibly in an hour or so.
You may file your rehabilitation application at a Port of Entry if:
- your inadmissibility relates to “criminality”, as opposed to “serious criminality”, as defined in immigration legislation; and
- you are a national of a country from which no visa is required to enter Canada.
The Port of Entry can also deal with requests to assess whether or not rehabilitation may be deemed under immigration rules.
Whether the rehabilitation is or is not deemed, applications made at a Port of Entry should be clear and straightforward, and should be well-documented. Officers at Ports of Entry are generally very busy, and are not keen to accept applications for rehabilitation. In appropriate cases, however, they may be convinced to consider and grant such applications, a fact that we re-confirmed when I filed an application at a nearby Port of Entry recently.