Overcoming criminal inadmissiblity

October 2014

Last month, we pretended that Canadian superstar Justin Bieber was an American, and considered whether his US and Canadian criminal issues would make him criminally inadmissible to Canada. They would.  We also discussed how in August, Justin Bieber bribed a border agent to get members of his band into Canada, even though they had criminal convictions in the US.  


In this month’s newsletter, I promised to discuss how someone who is criminally inadmissible can enter Canada.

There are three ways:

  • Deemed rehabilitation

  • Individual rehabilitation

  • A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

Deemed Rehabilitation

If the person was:

  • only convicted of one indictable offense or two summary offences, and

  • the equivalent Canadian offense does not carry a maximum sentence of 10 years or more, and

  • more than 10 years have elapsed since the completion of the sentence,

he or she is deemed to have been rehabilitated.

No application is required, but having a lawyer prepare documents to present at the border is a good idea. In these materials, the lawyer can set out the equivalent Canadian offences to the foreign convictions, which the border agent must know before being able to assess the rehabilitation request. 

Individual Rehabilitation

If more than five years have elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed, and there have been no subsequent convictions, the person can make an application for individual rehabilitation. A lawyer can represent the person in an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for an individual rehabilitation order.  The application can be made at the border for US citizens, but for all others, it must be made to the visa office that serves the country or region where the person lives.  There is a processing fee.  Applications made to a visa office can take over a year to complete.

An application package for rehabilitation can be found here:


Also, check the visa office website to see whether the office has any special requirements

Temporary Residence Permit (TRP)

If less than five years have elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed, the individual may be eligible to apply for a TRP. A lawyer can represent the person in an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

If the applicant is a citizen of a visa-exempt country, the visa office responsible for his or her country or region may have its own application form for TRP’s, so it is advised that the individual should check the visa office to find out about its specific application procedures. If the applicant requires a visa to come to Canada, the next step is to submit a temporary resident visa application, along with supporting documents justifying admissibility.

An application package for a Temporary Resident Visa can be found here:


Two final important notes

  • Some sentences are not considered convictions for the purposes of Canadian immigration. Examples of non-convictions include deferred adjudication, conditional discharge, dismissed charges, and nolle prosequi. Sentencing, however, varies between jurisdictions. A Canadian immigration lawyer can let an individual know if the outcome of a case resulted in a conviction for the purposes of Canadian immigration, and prepare a legal opinion for the person to take to the Canadian border or to send to the visa office.

  • A single summary offence may be ignored for Canadian immigration purposes. Consulting with a Canadian immigration lawyer can assist you in determining whether or not the offence is “summary” or “indictable”.

If Justin Bieber had known this information prior to coming to Canada with members of his band, perhaps he would have sought out the expertise of a Canadian immigration lawyer, rather than bribing a Canadian Border Services Agent to get them into Canada.