Inadmissibility to Canada: Information for Airlines and their Staff

Last updated: 19 July 2022

If someone who works in the airline industry has a criminal record, it is likely that he or she will have problems entering 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


At best, for those who are criminally inadmissible, routes with a Canadian stop on the itinerary would unfortunately not be an option. This would restrict them, as they would be forced to pick and choose flight plans that avoided Canada, potentially leading to inconvenient work schedules and stops in destinations they would not normally choose. This is, of course, assuming the airline is comfortable employing a criminally inadmissible individual.

At worst, being found criminally inadmissible can lead to sanctions from the airline, and even dismissal. It is not unusual for airline personnel to receive suspensions or be put on leave until their criminal inadmissibility is resolved. For airlines, employing staff who do not have the ability to legally enter the country is a serious issue. Depending on the severity of the charges on their record and the amount of time that has elapsed since the completion of their sentence, different options might be available to them.

In severe cases, being criminally inadmissible can lead to termination of employment. Many airlines do not want to deal with the hassle of accommodating a criminally inadmissible individual and are not willing to wait for him or her to resolve this inadmissibility. Others might not consider that a criminally inadmissible individual reflects the values the airline represents. 

The Border Officer has Discretion

Even if an individual has never previously experienced any trouble at a Canadian Port of Entry, it is still possible for him or her to be denied entry to Canada. Immigration officers at the border have a wide discretion in the exercise of their duties. Their assessment of an individual is important in terms of whether or not they are allowed to enter the country at that time.

Often, individuals can be permitted to enter the country without the border officer doing an exhaustive background check. Even if the border officer sees some blemishes on the individual’s criminal record, it is within the officer’s power to allow the individual to enter Canada even though that individual might technically be inadmissible. A border officer may suggest that a traveler applies for either a Canadian TRP or Criminal rehabilitation if they determine the individual is criminally inadmissible to Canada. This is especially the case as it concerns airline personnel, because of the nature of their occupation it is widely assumed that there are no legal restrictions on their ability to travel.

A Criminal Record may Affect Employment

In addition to current airline personnel, criminal inadmissibility can affect those aspiring to join the airline industry as well. Most airlines require a detailed background check for potential employees, and many airlines will not employ somebody who has a criminal record. For this reason, it is important to investigate how to resolve your criminal inadmissibility even before initiating the employment application process.

If you do find that you are inadmissible, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances of you losing out on an employment opportunity. Sometimes showing the airline proof that you have initiated the process of resolving your inadmissibility can alleviate their concerns and your candidacy may still be considered. It is important to show them that you are being proactive and are doing everything you can to maximize your chances of resolving the issue.

Ways to Overcome Criminal Inadmissibility for Employment Purposes

There are three main methods available for individuals working in the airline industry who wish to come to Canada but must overcome criminal inadmissibility:

  • Submit a Temporary Resident Permit application
  • Submit a Criminal Rehabilitation application
  • Legal Opinion Letter

1) Submit a Temporary Resident Permit Application

If you are a foreign national who has been arrested or convicted for DUI or any other criminal offence, you may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada. A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a solution that can grant temporary access to someone who is currently inadmissible to Canada.

A TRP application should only be submitted for significant travel and can be granted from the duration of a stay up to three years, depending on the reasons for entry. The duration of the TRP may be extended from inside Canada.

A TRP grants legal entry to Canada for a certain period of time. A person can apply for a TRP at any point. Unlike criminal rehabilitation, a TRP is not subject to a certain time frame in relation to the completion of the sentence. In fact, an individual can be granted a TRP while still serving a portion of his or her sentence, in certain circumstances.

2) Submit a Criminal Rehabilitation Application

Criminal rehabilitation is an application offered by the Canadian Government to those who are eligible for permanent clearance of past criminal history - for the purposes of entering Canada.

If an individual receives an approval for criminal rehabilitation, they are no longer considered inadmissible and would not require a TRP for entry. The criminal rehabilitation application is a one-time solution that, unlike a TRP, never requires renewal.

In order to be eligible for criminal rehabilitation:

  • You must have committed an act outside of Canada that would constitute an offence under the Canadian Criminal Code, and
  • You must have been convicted of, or admitted to, committing the act, and
  • Five years must have passed since the full sentence or sentences were completed. This phase includes jail time, fines, and probation

The most crucial consideration is understanding the equivalent offence in Canada. What is important is the nature and gravity of the offence, as per Canada’s Criminal Code. Canadian immigration authorities distinguish criminal offences based on serious versus non-serious criminality. An experienced Canadian immigration lawyer can be valuable when finding a Canadian law equivalent.

3) Legal Opinion Letter

An individual who has committed or been convicted of a crime can preemptively avoid being found inadmissible to Canada. One manner through which this outcome may be accomplished is a legal opinion letter addressed to the judicial authority hearing the case.

This letter is a document that is drafted by a Canadian immigration lawyer. In it, he or she refers to the relevant sections of Canadian law to explain the consequences in Canadian immigration law a guilty verdict or finding that a person has committed a criminal act would carry. This information can help the person decide how to respond to charges of a crime and how different outcomes (conviction, sentencing, etc.) would affect that person’s ability to come to Canada.

Depending on the circumstances, the effects of a conviction - and the resulting inadmissibility - can be severe. For example, someone whose employment entails a recurring need to enter Canada from the U.S can see his or her livelihood threatened by a determination of inadmissibility to Canada.

Similarly, an individual with family in Canada can be prevented from seeing these family members because that individual has been found inadmissible.

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.

Get a Free Legal Consultation