Denied Entry to Canada

Last updated: 29 November 2023


There are many reasons why an individual could be denied entry into Canada. One of the most common reasons why people are refused entry into Canada is because of their past criminal history.

The Cohen Immigration Law Firm can assist in your efforts to enter Canada. Simply complete our contact form and one of our experts will reach out to schedule a free consultation with you.


The Canadian government offers several potential solutions to resolve criminal inadmissibility issues.

There are situations where someone who has been denied entry into Canada by border officials are allowed to withdraw their application for admission until they can gather the necessary documentation and information to aid their case for entering Canada.

Being deemed inadmissible to Canada can be a costly and stressful experience, especially if you were refused entry unexpectedly. In order to make entering Canada a possibility in the future, explore the following options:

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) Applications

A temporary resident permit may be issued to individuals who would otherwise be inadmissible to Canada because of a criminal record, permitting them to enter or stay in the country for a specific amount of time.

Those who have been denied entry into Canada and who are not yet eligible for criminal rehabilitation must have a valid TRP in order to enter Canada. A TRP grants legal entry into Canada for a certain period and can be applied for at any point after committing or being convicted of a crime.

Unlike criminal rehabilitation (see below), a TRP is not subject to a certain time frame in relation to the completion of the sentence, meaning that an individual can be granted a TRP while still serving a portion of his or her sentence, in certain circumstances. An example might be someone who is currently on probation or has not yet fully paid a fine.

For individuals who have been convicted for serious offences, such as felonies, the odds of obtaining a TRP can be significantly less, especially while serving a sentence.

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Applying for a TRP

After you or your immigration lawyer have compiled all the required immigration documents to complete a Canadian TRP application, you must then submit it to the Canadian government for consideration. It would be wise to provide your lawyer with all of the documentation of your previous failed attempt(s) to enter Canada.

If you are an American citizen or have permanent resident status in the United States, you can submit your TRP application at a Canadian consulate or at a port of entry to Canada (land, sea or air).

Canadian Consulate Applications

To apply for a temporary resident permit, you will need to submit an application with supporting documents explaining the reason for your criminal inadmissibility and why your entry into Canada may be justified.

In some cases, people get criminal records in their home countries as a result of the human or international rights violations, such as a summary conviction on spurious charges. For such cases, immigration officials will take these factors into account.

In the event a serious crime appears on record, you may be required to supply additional information to satisfy the Canadian government.

Processing times for consulate applications are significantly longer than port of entry applications, however, the process involved takes the uncertainty out of crossing the border because applicants will know whether they are inadmissible or not long before reaching Canadian soil.

Port of Entry Applications

Applications for a temporary resident permit at a port of entry are available to foreign nationals with criminal inadmissibility issues who arrive after having made last-minute travel plans. Port of entry applications are processed immediately.

A Canadian immigration officer will consider the inadmissible person's need to enter Canada against the health and security risks to the Canadian population. Applicants must be able to demonstrate that their entry into Canada is justified.

The primary advantage of applying in this manner is the speed with which a person can acquire a TRP, which may be granted in a matter of minutes, however, nothing is guaranteed. Applicants may still be denied entry. If denied, you will not be allowed to enter Canada until you have received an approval from a Canadian consulate.

If you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country, you will need to apply for a temporary resident permit based on the guidelines set out by your specific country, as the application form may be different.

Government Application Fee

A fee of $229.77 CAD applies for each temporary resident permit application submitted.

Criminal Rehabilitation

The Canadian government offers an application for criminal rehabilitation to those who are inadmissible to the country. If you have been convicted of a crime in a foreign country, and more than the minimum of five years have passed since completing your sentence, you are likely eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation in Canada.

Once someone has been deemed rehabilitated by the Canadian government, they receive a certificate of rehabilitation that allows indefinite travel in and out of Canada.

If you have been denied entry to Canada in the past, a Canadian customs agent may suggest a criminal rehabilitation application as a method to eliminate future denials. Once an applicant is approved for Criminal Rehabilitation, they no longer require a temporary resident permit.

The most crucial consideration of the application is establishing the equivalent offence in Canada for the purposes of your criminal rehabilitation. Individuals with a past felony may result in what is called “serious criminality” on their records, and become subjected to a greater degree of scrutiny and processing costs during the application’s review process.

Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation after a Serious Criminal Conviction

Convictions that can be punished in Canada by a prison sentence of 10 years or more are deemed as “serious criminality.” Individuals with serious criminality must apply for criminal rehabilitation to obtain access to Canada, no matter the time that has elapsed since completing their sentence.

The decisions of these applications are highly subjective, so they are made at the discretion of Canadian immigration officials. Individuals with serious criminality can never be deemed rehabilitated and must apply for individual rehabilitation.

How Long Will It Take to Process my Criminal Rehabilitation Application?

The typical processing times are 6-12 months from the submission of your application.

Government Application Fee

  • A fee of $229.77 CAD applies to each criminal rehabilitation application submitted with non-serious criminality.

  • A fee of $1,148.87 CAD applies to each criminal rehabilitation application submitted with serious criminality.

About Cohen Immigration Law

Cohen Immigration Law is one of Canada's leading immigration law firms. We have over 45 years of experience and feature a team of over 60 Canadian immigration attorneys, paralegals, and other dedicated professionals.

Cohen Immigration Law uses its expertise to help clients overcome inadmissibility issues. Our team of inadmissibility lawyers and professionals will work to understand your situation and then submit the strongest possible application to Canadian immigration authorities. was founded in 1994 as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. Since then, CanadaVisa has grown into one of the world's most trusted resources on immigration to Canada. Please connect with us so we can support your inadmissibility needs.