The aim of officials at Canadian border and ports of entry is to facilitate the entry of visitors into Canada when possible. However they must also ensure the persons who are inadmissible to Canada, those that seek to contravene our laws, are prevented from entering.
With this in mind, all persons seeking to come into Canada must undergo “an examination,” a procedure by which an Immigration Officer determines whether a person seeking to come into Canada may be allowed to do so. They will speak to you about your visit. It will usually be a quick interview. Examinations are conducted in a courteous and efficient manner, and information provided by the traveler remains confidential. The traveler has the obligation of establishing his or her admissibility to Canada.
Travel by Air
Beginning January 23, 2007, All persons, including U.S. Citizens, travelling by air between the United States and Canada (including in transit passengers who are transferring planes in the U.S.) will be required to present a valid passport or Air NEXUS card or return to the U.S.A.
Travel by Land and Sea
Visitors can continue to use such documents as their birth certificates and drivers’ licences to cross the Canada-U.S. border by land and sea (including ferries). After June 2009 you will need a passport to enter of re-enter the U.S.A.
American visitors may be asked to verify their citizenship with such documents as a passport or a birth certificate. Naturalised U.S. citizens should carry a naturalization certificate. Permanent U.S. residents who are not citizens are advised to bring their Alien Registration Receipt Card (Green Card).
Travellers under the age of 18 and unaccompanied by a parent need a letter of permission to travel into Canada (from a parent or guardian). If you are travelling with children, you should carry identification for each child. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents.
An examining officer at the Canadian border or port of entry must be satisfied that the legal guardian has given permission for the child to be in the company of the care-giver, and must always exercise caution to protect the welfare of the child.
Since 1989, Immigration Officers and Customs Inspectors have helped recover more than 500 runaway or abducted children in Canada. Each year in Canada, approximately 50,000 cases of missing, runaway and abducted children are reported. In order to intercept and aid in the recovery of missing children at our borders, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada Customs Revenue Agency, and the RCMP, joined forces in May 1995 to create a common program called “Our Missing Children” aimed at reuniting children with their legal guardians.
Whether you are planning to visit, work, study or immigrate: if you have committed or have been convicted of a criminal offence, including driving while impaired, you may be prohibited from entering Canada.
You may be permitted to come to Canada if
* you have applied for rehabilitation and your application has been approved; or
* you are able to satisfy an immigration officer that you meet the legal requirement to be deemed rehabilitated; or
* you have obtained a temporary resident permit; or
* you have obtained a pardon from the National Parole Board of Canada if the criminal offence was committed in Canada; or
* you have obtained a foreign pardon recognized in Canada.
Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility
This information is intended for general guidance and reference only. A legal decision on your inadmissibility can only be made at the time you seek entry to Canada either through an application or at a port of entry.
There are a number of ways to overcome a past conviction. For each of them, you must provide the documentation and information concerning the details of these convictions, including
* information on the sentences you received for your convictions;
* any pardons or discharges granted; and
* information on the laws under which you were convicted or pardoned or discharged.
If you are applying for a temporary resident visa or a permanent resident visa, you will have to provide details of your criminal history in your visa application. If you do not require a visa to come to Canada, please read on.
You can apply for individual rehabilitation if at least five years have passed since you have completed all your criminal sentences and probation.
To apply for individual rehabilitation, you must submit an application, and pay a processing fee.
Applications for rehabilitation can take over a year to process, so make sure you plan for your visit far enough in advance.
You may be deemed rehabilitated if at least 10 years have passed since you completed the sentence imposed for your crime. Some requirements for deemed rehabilitation include:
* You have only been convicted of one offence; and
* The offence would be punishable in Canada by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than 10 years.
You are not required to submit an application to be deemed rehabilitated.
Pardon or Discharge
If you received a Canadian pardon for your conviction, you may be allowed to enter Canada. If you have been convicted in Canada and wish to apply for a pardon, see the National Parole Board Web site.
If you received a pardon or discharge for your conviction in a country other than Canada, check with the CIC office closest to you for more information.
Temporary Resident Permit
If justified by compelling circumstances, foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada, including people who have a criminal conviction, may be issued a temporary resident permit allowing them to enter or remain in Canada.
Read the Frequently Asked Questions, for more information on overcoming criminal inadmissibility.