Criminal Rehabilitation Canada

Last updated: 29 November 2023

How to get Canadian criminal rehabilitation to enter Canada for visit or travel tourism

The Canadian government offers an application for Criminal Rehabilitation to those who are inadmissible to the country. 

This application is available to those who are still eligible for permanent clearance of past criminal history. If you have been convicted of a crime or crimes in a foreign country, and it has been more than five years since completing your sentence, you are likely eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation in Canada.

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. 

Table of Contents

What is a Certificate of Rehabilitation?

A certificate of rehabilitation granted by the Canadian government is a permanent document 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 serious criminality on record are subject to more scrutiny during the review process of an application, and can also be charged higher processing fees.

When Should I Apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?

If you have a past conviction on your criminal record and believe you are inadmissible to Canada, you can apply for Criminal Rehabilitation to clear your record for the purpose of entering Canada. In order to be eligible, it must be at least five years since completing your sentence(s), which includes prison or probation time, payment of fines and any required community service or classes. If it has been less than five years since completion of sentence, you are not eligible to apply but you may be a candidate for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP).

Why Should I Apply For Criminal Rehabilitation with a Felony Conviction?

Although Canadian law does not use misdemeanor and felony as distinctions, an individual with a past felony conviction may be considered inadmissible to Canada on the grounds of serious criminality. Offenses that are determined to be severe by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) based on the maximum imposable sentence in Canada, can be deemed serious criminality. In order to resolve inadmissibility as a result of serious criminality, you must always submit an application for Criminal Rehabilitation as you do not qualify to be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time. Some of examples of serious criminality include theft over $5000, domestic abuse and drug trafficking.

    What Crimes Require Criminal Rehabilitation?

    The following is an overview of the principal offences for which the majority of travellers may require to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation:

    Driving Offences Involving Alcohol or Drugs

    In terms of criminal inadmissibility, the offences that are most frequently encountered are those pertaining to driving while intoxicated. Such offences have different designations, depending on the circumstances of the infraction and where the offence was committed.

    Offences include:

    • DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

    • DWI (Driving While Impaired/Intoxicated)

    • DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired)

    • DWUI (Driving While Under the Influence)

    • OWI (Operating While Intoxicated)

    • OUI (Operating Under the Influence)

    • OMVI (Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated)

    A conviction for these offences typically leads to a finding of criminal inadmissibility, and can result in being turned away at the Canadian border. This is the case whether the individual is attempting to drive or fly into Canada.

    Reckless Driving

    Despite the fact that a conviction for reckless driving is often seen as a welcome alternative to a DUI (or any variation thereof), they both carry the same effect on entry to Canada—a determination of criminal inadmissibility that can lead to a denial. Dangerous driving is an analogous offence that also results in criminal inadmissibility.

    Any serious driving violation has the potential of hindering an individual’s ability to legally enter the country, regardless of whether the individual in question will be driving in Canada.

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    Fraud is a general category of offences that includes any violation committed with the intent of depriving another party (an individual or company/organization) of anything of which they are the rightful owner.

    Theft is a clear cut offence that falls under the fraud category. The level of severity of the offence is determined by Canadian immigration authorities, and will depend on the nature of the theft and the amount stolen. For example, theft under $5,000 is considered a non-serious offence, while theft over this amount is considered serious criminality. Moreover, aggravating factors (such as when a theft is performed with the aid of a weapon, violence, or the threat of violence) can increase the level of seriousness of the infraction.

    Using a credit card with the knowledge that it has been revoked or cancelled is another form of fraud that can result in criminal inadmissibility to Canada. Using a payment method which the individual is aware will not result in the other party being compensated is an offence, as it entails deceit. The same reasoning applies to knowingly using a bad cheque, and the commission of this act often carries with it a determination of criminal inadmissibility.


    Most forms of assault can render someone inadmissible to Canada. Assault can refer to a number of different forms of physical or verbal altercation that might take place between individuals. These acts can range from violent threats to spontaneous bar fights to passionate crimes of violence carried out with premeditation and intent. Regardless of their place along this spectrum, in most cases incidents of assault result in criminal inadmissibility to Canada.

    Here again there can be certain mitigating or aggravating factors that affect the assault's seriousness. These pertain primarily to whether a weapon was employed in carrying out the assault and whether bodily harm was inflicted upon the victim of the assault. If a weapon was used and/or injury to the victim resulted from the assault, then this offence would be considered serious criminality.

    For the purposes of Canadian inadmissibility, this status could lead to an individual being assessed as more of a security risk by Canadian immigration authorities, and a determination of criminal inadmissibility is more likely to ensue.

    Both serious assault (using a weapon and/or inflicting bodily harm) and non-serious assault (no weapon and no bodily harm) can render an individual criminally inadmissible to Canada.

    Drug Offences

    A charge or conviction for the following drug offences can all make a person criminally inadmissible to Canada:

    • consumption

    • possession

    • purchase

    • sale or distribution

    The nature and context of this offence can impact its seriousness and affect the likelihood that it will result in an individual being found inadmissible. An obvious indicator with regard to this determination is the class of drug involved in the offence.

    Drugs are classified according to different schedules in the Canadian Criminal Code. This classification determines the gravity of the offence and the severity of the punishments available to sanction its commission. For example, possession of marijuana and the possession of cocaine are seen as very different offences, and it would not make sense if individuals who perpetrated these offences were dealt with in the same manner. Cocaine is considered to be a more serious and harm-inducing narcotic. Therefore, the punishment for an offence relating to cocaine is usually harsher than that which applies to marijuana.

    Because the nature of drug offences vary widely, the seriousness with which they are regarded and their effect on Canadian inadmissibility do as well. Different actions taken with regard to particular drugs can carry different legal consequences. The same holds true for affecting one’s ability to legally enter Canada. For example, while the possession of certain drugs under a specified amount might not result in criminal inadmissibility, the unauthorized distribution of the same drug in the same amount can do so.

    The effects of the offence on Canadian inadmissibility can vary, depending on:

    • The type of drugs

    • The amount of drugs in question

    • The action taken with respect to the drugs

    The strategies available to overcome or address the resulting criminal inadmissibility can also vary, and their chances of success depend greatly on the circumstances and context of the offence.

    Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation with Non-Serious Criminality

    If you have more than one conviction on record or it has been less than 10 years since the completion of your sentence, we suggest applying for Criminal Rehabilitation to permanently resolve inadmissibility to Canada.

    If 10 years have passed since the completion of sentence and this is your sole conviction, you would likely be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time and not be required to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. The associated processing fees are $229.77 CAD.

    Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation with Serious Criminality

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

    The associated processing fees are high ($1,148.87 CAD). The decisions of these applications are highly subjective, so they are made at the discretion of Canadian immigration officials.

    What Do I Need to Include in My Criminal Rehabilitation Application?

    In order to submit a fully completed criminal rehabilitation application, you must include the following:

    1. Application for Criminal Rehabilitation form
    2. Use of a Representative form, if applicable
    3. Copy of applicants Passport
    4. Statements addressing circumstances of conviction(s), applicants' rehabilitation
    5. Letters of reference
    6. Court documentation for any offense on record
    7. The foreign or Canadian laws under which you were charged or convicted. You can obtain copies of foreign laws by contacting local police authorities, lawyers, or the courthouse where the offence occurred.
    8. FBI and State Police background checks
    9. Once these documents have been included, the application can be submitted to a Canadian consulate for processing.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

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

    During the processing period of your Criminal Rehabilitation application, an individual can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit to enter Canada if the reason for travel is deemed significant.

    For non-serious criminality, the Canadian Government charges a $229.77 CAD processing fee. For serious criminality, the Canadian Government charges a $1,148.87 CAD processing fee.

    Criminal history reports from other countries and states are requirements for the Criminal Rehabilitation application.

    Request a United States federal background report.

    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.

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