Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation in Canada

Do you have a criminal record and wish to enter Canada? You may be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation.

Here are the rules

Under Canada’s federal immigration legislation, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, individuals applying for temporary or permanent residence may be considered inadmissible to Canada if they have a criminal history. It may be possible to overcome that inadmissibility, however, through a record suspension and/or criminal rehabilitation.

If you have a criminal conviction in Canada, you must seek a record suspension (formerly referred to as a pardon) from the Parole Board of Canada. In order to be considered for a record suspension, a specified period of time must have elapsed since the end of the sentence imposed. The usual waiting period is 10 years for indictable offences and 5 years for summary convictions.

When can I apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?

If you have convictions/offences outside of Canada, you are eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation* if you have:

  • been convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be an indictable offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years and five years have elapsed since completion of the sentence;
  • committed an offence outside Canada, that, if committed in Canada, would be an indictable offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years and five years have elapsed since commission of the offence;
  • been convicted or committed an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more and five years have elapsed since completion of the sentence or commission of the offence.

(*If at least ten years have elapsed since conviction/commission of an indictable offence or five years have elapsed since conviction for two or more summary convictions, then you may be deemed rehabilitated. In such circumstances, you will not be required to apply for criminal rehabilitation; however, it may be prudent to seek an assessment of deemed rehabilitation by the consulate, High Commission or embassy in your area prior to seeking entry to Canada)

What if my conviction was inside Canada?

If you have convictions in Canada and convictions/offences outside of Canada, both a record suspension and criminal rehabilitation will be required to overcome inadmissibility.

If, pursuant to the rules listed above, you are eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation, then you will have to submit a detailed form and supporting documentation to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). The supporting documentation includes copies of:

  • court judgments made against you;
  • foreign or Canadian laws under which you were charged; and,
  • any documents relating to sentence imposed, clearly showing when your sentence was completed.

You will also be required to submit original documentation of:

  • a criminal clearance from the police authorities in all countries (including Canada) where you have lived for six consecutive months or longer since the age of 18;
  • for people who have lived in the United States, a state clearance certificate from each state in which you have resided for six consecutive months or longer since the age of 18;
  • if you were a juvenile offender, a letter or document proving that the country in which you were convicted has special measures for juvenile offenders;

If my offence was outside of Canada?

With respect to a criminal history outside of Canada, if:

  • your charges have been withdrawn or dismissed; or
  • you have received an absolute or conditional discharge; or
  • you have been granted a pardon,

then you may still be considered inadmissible to Canada. You will still be required to submit the above-noted documentation, and/or any other relevant documentation, to CIC so that an officer may determine whether or not you are inadmissible to Canada.

What if I don’t qualify for Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation? Can I still enter Canada?

If you don’t qualify, you still may be able to apply for entry. You could apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or a TRP in some cases where your conviction was more recent. For more information about TRPs visit us here. If you need help with admission to Canada it is best to contact a lawyer for an assessment before taking the trip up North.


Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

Tags: application for criminal rehab canada application for criminal rehabilitation canadian application for criminal rehabilitation criminal rehabilitation application denied entry to Canada

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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