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Criminal Rehabilitation Application Process

Foreign nationals who are criminally inadmissible to Canada are not permitted to enter Canada for any reason, without first obtaining special authorization from Canadian immigration authorities. Authorization can come in the form of a Temporary Resident Permit application, or a Criminal Rehabilitation application. Criminal Rehabilitation is a process whereby a foreign national petitions the Canadian government for permanent relief/clemency/forgiveness, for a particular crime(s) committed in a foreign country. Once a foreign national successfully undergoes the Criminal Rehabilitation process, their prior offenses will no longer impede travel to Canada. Criminal rehabilitation is a process with results similar to a complete pardon or expungement.


In order to be eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation:

  • 5 years must have elapsed since the completion of all sentences, probationary periods and fines; and
  • You must have been convicted of an infraction, or committed an act, outside of Canada that would constitute an offence under a federal act of Parliament

Note: The Criminal Rehabilitation application process only pertains to individuals with foreign convictions (offences outside of Canada).  For offences committed in Canada, click here.

Canadian Equivalent

Locating the corresponding offence in Canada is essential to a compliant Criminal Rehabilitation application submission. Canadian immigration authorities do not care about how a criminal act or infraction was treated in a foreign jurisdiction; what matters is the severity of the offence per Canadian law. Once a Canadian equivalent has been identified within Canadian law and regulation, the maximum imposable sentence is used to determine whether non-serious criminality or serious criminality is at play.

Note: Foreign nationals convicted of a singular infraction may be deemed rehabilitated if more than 10 years have passed since the completion of all sentences, probationary periods and fines.

Non-Serious Criminality

Non-serious criminality is a designation given to certain infractions generally considered to be less severe by Canadian immigration authorities, but that nevertheless render a foreign national criminally inadmissible to Canada. Examples are DUI and other drunk driving offences, simple assault, theft under $5000, and possession of marijuana. In cases of criminal inadmissibility due to non-serious criminality Criminal Rehabilitation candidates are required to complete the rehabilitation process prior to resuming normal travel to Canada.

Non-serious Criminal Rehabilitation processing times are typically much faster. Canadian government processing fees for non-serious criminality are $200 CAD, compared to $1000 CAD for serious criminality.

Note: If ten years have passed since the completion of all sentences, probationary periods and fines and only one conviction exists, you may be eligible for deemed rehabilitated status. However, foreign nationals with multiple convictions are not eligible for deemed rehabilitated status consideration and must apply for Criminal Rehabilitation.

Serious Criminality

Serious criminality is a designation given to those infractions determined to be severe by Canadian immigration authorities. Examples include domestic abuse, theft above $5000, any offence committed with a weapon, and drug trafficking. Offences with a maximum imposable prison sentence in Canada of ten years or more are considered serious criminality and have different ramifications. The maximum imposable prison sentence is the only determinant used to establish serious criminality.

Serious criminality must always be addressed by way Criminal Rehabilitation, as a foreign national can never be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time (10 years).

Note: The Criminal Rehabilitation process is the same regardless of the type of criminality. However, Canadian government processing fees for serious criminality are $1000 CAD and processing times are longer (about 12-18 months). The decision to approve or deny a Criminal Rehabilitation application rests solely with the Canadian immigration officer who assesses the application.

To speak with a Canadian immigration lawyer about entry to Canada with a criminal conviction, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America for a free consultation. Our Canadian immigration lawyers have a successful track record of finding solutions for those with criminal inadmissibility issues.