If I’m Convicted of a Crime, Can I Travel to Canada?

two girls with the canadian flag draped around their shoulders

Traveling internationally after a criminal conviction presents unique challenges, and Canada is no exception. Canada has strict policies regarding the admittance of foreign nationals with criminal records, making it important for New Hampshire residents to be aware of these stipulations. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, it’s important to understand how it may impact your ability to enter our northern neighbor.

Canada’s Inadmissibility Criteria:

Canada categorizes criminal offenses that lead to inadmissibility into two primary groups:

  1. Criminality: This encompasses crimes  committed outside of Canada. It includes offenses such as theft, assault, and possession of controlled substances. It also includes DWI and reckless driving.
  2. Serious Criminality: This includes crimes committed in Canada that are punishable by imprisonment for at least six months or crimes committed outside of Canada that, if committed in Canada, would carry a prison term of ten years or more. Such crimes typically involve severe offenses like armed robbery, sexual assault, or manslaughter.

It’s important to note that Canada evaluates foreign convictions based on how the crime equates to Canadian law, not how it’s treated in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred.

Trying to enter Canada with a DWI

While many types of convitions can prohibit an individual from entering Canada, one of the most common to come up is DWI. Perhaps this is because DWI is the type of crime most likely to be committed by international travelers who otherwise have no record. Because New Hampshire borders Canada, it is a very popular tourist destination for residents of the Granite State. Many travelers from New Hampshire and elsewhere have been turned away at the northern border trying to enter Canada.

Rehabilitation and Overcoming Inadmissibility:

If you are deemed inadmissible, not all hope is lost. There are routes to legally enter Canada, even with a conviction:

  1. Deemed Rehabilitation: If enough time has passed since your conviction and you haven’t re-offended, you may be considered rehabilitated. Typically, this is ten years for a single non-serious crime and five years for two or more summary offenses. However, for serious criminality, one must apply for individual rehabilitation. Regardless of how long it has been since your conviction, don’t just assume you will be able to enter Canada. Do your research and if necessary talk to a lawyer in advance before traveling.
  2. Individual Rehabilitation: If at least five years have passed since the end of your criminal sentence, you can apply to the Canadian government for individual rehabilitation. This process involves proving that you’ve led a stable life post-conviction and are unlikely to commit any more crimes.
  3. Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): If fewer than five years have passed since your sentence completion, but you have a significant reason to travel to Canada, you might be eligible for a TRP. This permit allows entry for a specific purpose and limited time.

How Can an  Attorney Assist?

While the above guidelines provide a general overview, the intersection of U.S. and Canadian law is intricate. Here’s where a seasoned immigration or criminal attorney, particularly one familiar with New Hampshire’s legal landscape, becomes invaluable:

  1. Clarification on Offenses: An attorney can provide clarity on how your specific offense translates in the context of Canadian law, given that the equivalency matters, not the U.S. classification.
  2. Assistance with Applications: Whether you’re seeking individual rehabilitation or a TRP, the paperwork is extensive, and the standards are high. Legal expertise ensures your application is accurate, comprehensive, and presents the strongest case for your entry.
  3. Advice on Timing: An attorney can guide you on the best time to apply, ensuring you meet the necessary post-conviction time requirements.
  4. Representation: If you face challenges or disputes regarding your inadmissibility status, having an attorney advocate on your behalf can make all the difference.
  5. Continuous Updates: Laws and regulations evolve. An attorney will be informed of any changes in Canadian or New Hampshire laws that could impact your ability to travel.

The ability to travel to Canada post-conviction hinges on several factors, including the nature of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction, and any steps taken towards rehabilitation. While a criminal record can present obstacles, with the right approach and expert guidance, these challenges can often be overcome.

Our law firm is committed to helping New Hampshire residents navigate these complexities. If you are facing criminal charges, and expect to be traveling to Canada at any point in the future, you should know about the travel restrictions before resolving your case. If you or someone you know is concerned about traveling to Canada with a conviction, we’re here to provide insight, guidance, and dedicated legal support to ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.

So for answers to the question: If I’m Convicted of a Crime, Can I Travel to Canada? Connect with our experienced New Hampshire criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation and help navigating this and many other complex situations.

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