Citizenship and Immigration Canada
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Visiting Canada: Overcoming criminal inadmissibility

This information is intended for general guidance and reference only. A legal decision on your inadmissibility can only be made at the time you seek entry into Canada either through an application or at a port of entry.

Depending on the nature of the offence, the time elapsed and your behaviour since it was committed or since you were sentenced, you may no longer be considered inadmissible to Canada. You may be permitted to come to Canada if

Deemed rehabilitation

You may be deemed rehabilitated if you meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Depending on the nature of your offence, at least five years and as many as 10 years must have passed since you completed the sentence imposed for your crime. Deemed rehabilitation also depends on whether you have committed one or more offences. In all cases, you may only be deemed rehabilitated if the offence committed would be punishable in Canada by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than 10 years.

You are not required to submit an application to be deemed rehabilitated. However, before arriving at a port of entry, we strongly advise you to contact a Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate outside Canada to see if you qualify.

Individual rehabilitation

Rehabilitation means that you lead a stable life and that you are unlikely to be involved in any further criminal activity.

If you want to come to Canada but you have committed or been convicted of a crime and you are not eligible for “deemed rehabilitation,” you must apply for rehabilitation to enter Canada. To apply for individual rehabilitation, at least five years must have passed since you completed all your criminal sentences. You must submit an application to the Canadian visa office in your area and pay a processing fee.

Please note: Applications for rehabilitation can take over a year to process, so make sure you plan for your visit far enough in advance.

Pardon or discharge

If you have been convicted in Canada and wish to apply for a pardon, see the National Parole Board website. If you received a Canadian pardon for your conviction, you may be allowed to enter Canada.

If you received a pardon or a discharge for your conviction in a country other than Canada, check with the CIC office closest to you for more information.

Temporary resident permit

If less than five years have passed since the end of the criminal sentence, or if justified by compelling circumstances, foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada, including people who have a criminal conviction, may be issued temporary resident permits allowing them to enter or remain in Canada.

Note: Temporary resident permits are only issued in exceptional circumstances, if there are reasons of national interest or strong humanitarian or compassionate grounds. A temporary resident permit may be cancelled at any time.

Temporary resident visa or
Permanent resident visa

If you are applying for a temporary resident visa or a permanent resident visa, you will have to provide details of your criminal history in your visa application. In cases where you have been declared criminally inadmissible, you may apply for rehabilitation if the required five years have elapsed since your conviction.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on criminal inadmissibility.