Fully-vaccinated tourists from the United States have been able to travel to Canada as of August 9, 2021.
Since many of the popular Canadian tourist destinations are a stone’s throw from the U.S., most of these tourists will be entering by vehicle at one of Canada’s ports of entry.
If you are planning to drive to Canada, you need to keep in mind that there are strict rules in place if you have a criminal record. It is important to understand these rules and what they mean so you are not denied entry. Criminal inadmissibility can prevent someone from coming to Canada, whether the stay is short term or long term, work or study, family or leisure.
When Canadians attempt to enter the United States, their passport is linked to their RCMP criminal record. A similar linkage occurs for U.S. residents trying to enter Canada from the United States. Upon entry to Canada, a U.S. citizen is required to present a U.S passport or travel document to an immigration officer for screening purposes. This person’s passport has a direct link to an FBI background record, where recent or past criminal history can appear. Even if your charge or conviction is from several decades ago, it can still appear on this criminal record and be held against your desire to enter the country.
If you believe you are inadmissible to Canada or fear you may be denied entry to the country, it Is important to know that you still have options.
The Canadian government offers potential short- and long-term solutions to travelers with a criminal history. The first, a temporary fix, is called the Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). The second, a permanent solution, is known as Criminal Rehabilitation. The third, a legal opinion letter, can be helpful in unique situations such as traveling with a pending criminal charge.
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
A Temporary Resident Permit is designed for people who need temporary access into Canada. TRPs are typically granted to individuals who demonstrate compelling reasons for entry. That means they must show that the benefits of their visit to Canada outweigh any risks. Individuals who wish to travel to Canada for leisure purposes are typically advised to apply for criminal rehabilitation if they meet the requirements.
A criminal rehabilitation application is for permanent clearance of criminal history. To apply for rehabilitation, it must be at least five years since you completed your sentence(s). The term sentence here refers to any judicial result of your case which could include prison or probation time, payment of fines and community service or classes. Once an applicant is approved for Criminal Rehabilitation, they no longer require a Temporary Resident Permit.
If it has been less than five years since you finished your sentence, you are not eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation. But, you may be eligible for a TRP.
Legal Opinion Letter
Legal advice can be beneficial to you even if you have not yet been convicted of a crime. Anyone who has been charged with an offence but has not yet been convicted can take steps to avoid becoming inadmissible to Canada. If you have been charged with an offence in another country, you may want to have a legal opinion letter prepared by a Canadian immigration lawyer.
This is a report with details concerning your criminal charge, the lawyer’s legal conclusions and explanation as to how a potential sentence will impact your ability to enter Canada. It can be a helpful tool in deciding how to plead your case.
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