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How Can a Felon Enter Canada?

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How Can a Felon Enter Canada? Felons know how difficult travel can be after their release.  While on probation, they need written permission from their Probation Officer to travel anywhere outside of the Federal district within which they reside.

Once probation ends, it may seem as though things would get easier.  In some respects they do.  As long as they remain in the United States, they may move about at will.

When it comes to traveling to another country for which a passport is required, however, things do become difficult.  It is complicated to obtain a passport.

How about journeying to a neighboring country, such as Canada, which does not require a passport to enter for U.S. citizens?

It would appear that this would be easy.  If they had traveled to Canada before their felony conviction, this was true.  But what about now that they have a felony record?

This blog post will cover the issue of being able to enter Canada with a felony conviction.

  • Criminal Inadmissibility
  • Temporary Residence Permit
  • Criminal Rehabilitation
  • Coping with Being Denied Entry to Canada


Criminal Inadmissibility

According to Canadian laws, any U.S. citizen or U.S. resident who has a criminal record may be denied entry into Canada because of criminal inadmissibility.

Why is this the case?  The Canadian government is invested in protecting its citizens.  This has become even more critical to Canada since 9/11 when the world changed due to terrorism.

Since that time the United States and Canada share much information for security reasons.  Since 2010, the FBI criminal database has been linked to the Canadian Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) crime database.

This allows for a quick check on anyone attempting to cross the Canadian border to determine if that person has a U.S. criminal record.  If so, the only way to legally enter the country is to obtain permission from the Canadian government.

This is true even if the felony conviction occurred as much as ten to twenty years ago.  Time alone will not make felons rehabilitated in the Canadian government’s eyes.

Temporary Resident Permit

Applying for admission to enter Canada, is called obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP).  This will allow entry to Canada for as long as three years.

But felons must have a legitimate reason for wanting to enter the country.  A TRP can be applied for at the border upon time of entry, but it will usually only be granted then in case of an emergency.

Otherwise, application must be made in advance.  It typically takes two to three months to obtain a TRP.

For felons whose conviction was less than ten years ago, a TRP is the only way to legally cross the Canadian border.

If their conviction was more than ten years in the past, there is another method to obtaining permission to enter the country.

Criminal Rehabilitation

This method is called Criminal Rehabilitation, which applies to those who have been convicted of at least one serious felony.  This is a felony in which the maximum sentence would have been at least ten years in Canada.

Typically, according to Canadian law, offenses considered serious are those involving bodily injury or a weapon.

It is only available to felons who have finished their sentence, including probation and paying all fines, at least ten years previously.  It typically takes a year to attain this status.

An individual who has only one non-serious  felony, an offense which would receive less than a ten year sentence under Canadian law, is “deemed rehabilitated” if more than ten years have passed since the completion of their sentence.

Felons who can prove they have been rehabilitated either because of a deferral or conditional discharge or because the felony has been expunged or pardoned do not have to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation.

Even having a felony arrest on their record can prevent legal entry.  Documents must be obtained proving that there was no conviction.

Criminal Rehabilitation will permanently remove the inadmissible status from felons’ records.  Application for CR is a very complex process. Retaining an attorney is highly recommended to assist in completing this process.

Canadian government officials want to be assured that felons have been reformed.  Extensive information will be required.

Applicants will be asked to provide all addresses at which they have resided as adults.  Full employment history since age 18 with no gaps in employment time is also mandatory.

Among the documents needed are police documents.  These include a police certificate or letter from a police authority in every state in which they resided for more than six consecutive months as an adult.

A  National FBI certificate as a sign of an FBI record check is also necessary.  The reason is to make the Canadian government aware of every crime, even misdemeanors, committed by felons.

Coping With Being Denied Entry to Canada

Being denied permission to enter Canada is another form of what are called collateral consequences of being convicted of a felony.

It is another penalty to be paid.

If all efforts to gain legal entry to Canada fail, felons will be forced to remain within the U.S. borders.  They will not be allowed to live, work, or travel to Canada.

They can still travel within the U.S. to whatever states they desire.  There are many places to live and work within the States.

Felons who are considered inadmissible who have families in Canada will be unable to visit them there.  But those loved ones can be encouraged to travel to the U.S. to see their family members.

Those felons will continue to need the support of family in the U.S. or Canada.

So what do you think about this blog post about how a felon can enter Canada?  Have you or someone you know been through this experience?  What was that like and were they successful?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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