Can You Travel To Canada With a Felony?

Can you go to Canada if you have a felony? Yes, it’s possible to travel to Canada with a felony as long as you’ve received permission from the Canadian Government or qualify for assessment at the border. Otherwise, felons are criminally inadmissible to enter Canada.

Because the United States government gives Canadian authorities full access to the FBI criminal records database, anyone attempting to enter Canada with a felony will be flagged at the border or port of entry.

Can You Go To Canada if You Have a Felony in 2024? Key Takeaways

Can Felons Go To Canada

  • Felons need permission to enter Canada
  • You must supply documentary evidence of your crime, sentence, and completion of sentence
  • You must provide a police certificate and background check
  • You may qualify for temporary entry if you have a valid reason to visit Canada and don’t pose a risk to Canadian society
  • If enough time has passed since your conviction, you may qualify for criminal rehabilitation which restores your right to freely enter Canada
  • Travelers are strongly encouraged to apply well in advance of anticipated travel dates

How Can You Travel To Canada With A Felony?

Can Felons Go To Canada? Yes, but the Canadian government advises travelers with felonies to obtain permission to enter Canada well in advance of their trip.

While it’s possible to apply for permission at a port of entry, the risk of being deemed criminally inadmissible to enter Canada is high.

Canada offers two pathways felons can follow to obtain entry authorization:

  1. Canada Temporary Resident Permit
  2. Criminal Rehabilitation

Criminal inadmissibility doesn’t only apply to felonies. Canada has strict rules concerning criminal offenses, and even relatively minor convictions like misdemeanor DUI or shoplifting can result in being refused entry.

Canada Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

Canada Temporary Resident Permit

The Canada Temporary Resident Permit is an authorization that allows travelers with a felony or other criminal record to enter Canada for a specific period.

To qualify for a TRP you must:

  • Have a valid reason to enter Canada
  • Not pose a significant risk to the health and safety of Canadian society
  • Have received your conviction less than 5 years ago

Valid reasons for travel to Canada may include essential business trips, medical treatment, family emergencies, and events like weddings or funerals.

A TRP is usually granted for a limited period but can be issued for up to 3 years.

The application and approval process for a Canadian TRP takes several months. The application fee (CAN$299.77) will not be refunded if your application is denied.

To support your TRP application, you’ll need to supply documents explaining why you are criminally inadmissible and why your entry into Canada is justified:

  • Completed form “Application for Criminal Rehabilitation”
  • Payment receipt
  • Copy of passport information page
  • FBI National Certificate (dated within 12 months)
  • Copy of each court judgment filed against you
  • Documents showing dates of completion of all conditions of your sentence/s
  • Documents showing evidence of your rehabilitation
  • Personal statement describing the purpose of your trip to Canada, proposed travel dates, and length of stay
  • Documentary evidence supporting the purpose of your trip
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs
  • Travel authorization from your probation officer (if applicable)

Download the checklist:

Are felons allowed in Canada? If the offense on your record is classed as a serious offense (by Canadian justice standards) the likelihood of receiving travel authorization via a TRP is low.

Criminal Rehabilitation

Criminal Rehabilitation

Once granted, criminal rehabilitation is a permanent status allowing unrestricted travel to Canada.

Rehabilitation means that you:

  • Lead a stable lifestyle
  • Are unlikely to commit further crimes

Criminal rehabilitation has two forms:

  1. Deemed rehabilitation
  2. Individual rehabilitation

In both cases, a crucial factor is the length of the sentence Canadian law would impose for the offense if the same crime had been committed inside Canada (not the actual sentence you received in the United States).

Deemed Rehabilitation

Can you travel to Canada with a felony after 10 years? If you’ve heard of the 10-year rule, this rule refers to an authorization known as “Deemed Rehabilitation”.

Deemed rehabilitation may be granted depending on the seriousness of the crime (under Canadian law) and how much time has passed since you committed the offense.

Indictable Offense

Deemed rehabilitation is only a possibility when the crime committed has a maximum sentence of less than 10 years if the crime is equivalent to an indictable offense in Canada.

For this category of offense, 10 years must have passed since your conviction or the completion of your sentence.

Summary Offense

If your offense would be classed as a summary offense in Canada, and you were convicted of 2 or more summary offenses, a minimum of 5 years must have passed since you served your sentence.

When the crime committed carries a sentence of more than 10 years under Canadian law, you are not eligible for deemed rehabilitation.

How To Apply

You’ll need to be assessed at a Canadian port of entry by an immigration official who will decide if you meet the requirements for entry.

For the assessment, you’ll need to provide the following documents:

  • Passport or USA birth certificate and photo ID
  • Copy of each court judgment
  • Recent criminal background check
  • Police certificate from everywhere you lived for 6 months or longer in the last 10 years

If you aren’t sure if you qualify for deemed rehabilitation, contact an immigration lawyer for advice before you travel.

Read Also: Can You Move To Australia With A Criminal Record?

Individual Rehabilitation

Individual Rehabilitation

How can you visit Canada with a felony if you aren’t eligible for deemed rehabilitation?

Apply for individual rehabilitation if the crime you committed isn’t eligible for deemed rehabilitation or it’s been less than 10 years since your indictable offense.

Felons can apply for individual rehabilitation 5 years after committing the offense or completing the sentence imposed (including probation).

Earliest application:

  • Suspended sentence: 5 years from the date you were sentenced
  • Suspended sentence and a fine: 5 years from the date the fine was paid
  • Imprisonment without parole: 5 years since the end of the prison term
  • Imprisonment with parole: 5 years since completion of parole
  • Probation: 5 years from the end of probation

You must apply for individual rehabilitation in advance through your local Canadian consulate. Applications may take over 1 year to process, and the processing fee varies depending on the seriousness of the crime committed.

  • Inadmissible on the grounds of criminality: CAN$229.77
  • Inadmissible on the grounds of serious criminality: CAN$1,148.87

For further information, please visit the Canadian government website HERE.