For individuals who are criminally inadmissible to Canada, the selection of the port of entry through which to enter Canada can have a significant effect on the acceptance or refusal of a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) application. In light of this, applicants have the opportunity to be strategic in the selection of their port of entry in order to maximize the chance of success of their application.
A Temporary Resident Permit is granted to foreign nationals who would otherwise be inadmissible to Canada, allowing them to enter the country for a set period of time and for a specific purpose. The specific purpose of the visit must be properly explained in detail in the application for the TRP, and the given reason for the need to enter Canada is generally based on work, family, or emergency situations. A TRP can be used for entry to Canada as a foreign worker, foreign student or as a visitor but not for any permanent residency processes, and will be required until the criminal inadmissibility has been permanently removed, through criminal or deemed rehabilitation.
With a Temporary Resident Permit, the Canadian border officials assessing the application have ultimate discretion to make the decision about an individual’s admissibility to Canada. By making strategic decisions about which Canadian port of entry to use, TRP applicants can choose the port of entry that will allow for the greatest chances of application approval.
Entering Canada by air and working with a Canadian border official stationed in an airport provides the best opportunity for application approval. If the TRP has been prepared in advance for assessment, an airport is the ideal port of entry. Immigration officials in airports often conduct background checks with the passenger lists they have access to and an individual with a criminal charge will need to go through a second round of screening at the airport to assess their admissibility. Generally, the immigration officers in airports are more knowledgeable than officers at other ports of entry and have more experience in decisions of admissibility. At an airport, the costs of rejecting an applicant’s TRP also tend to be higher than at other ports of entry, as a rejection requires the immigration officer to book the applicant the nearest flight back to their home country and escort the applicant through the airport to ensure they board the plane and leave the country.
At a land border, the costs for immigration officers are generally lower, as it is far easier to turn back an applicant who drove to the border in their own vehicle. The immigration officers at land borders tend to be less familiar with procedures of admissibility than their counterparts in airports. All land crossings also have access to passport scanning, which means that the immigration officer will have an individual’s criminal record readily available. Because the officers are less familiar with admissibility procedures and requirements, this could be an issue in cases where the person has a prior conviction but has been deemed rehabilitated and is no longer inadmissible. In cases like these, FWCanada recommends bringing a legal opinion letter confirming admissibility to the border. For applicants planning to cross into Canada at a land border, particularly those planning to travel by bus or rail, the chance of being admitted to Canada is maximized if the applicant waits for their application to be processed by the consulate, minimizing any uncertainty at the border.
Entering Canada by sea also poses additional risks, particularly for foreign nationals travelling on cruise ships, which tend not to warn their passengers of the implications of trying to enter a port while inadmissible. Inadmissible individuals on cruises could be prevented from disembarking at any Canadian port where the cruise stops. If a cruise leaves from a Canadian port, an individual who is criminally inadmissible will be unable to enter Canada to board their cruise, and cruise lines rarely refund individuals in this situation. Immigration officials at sea ports also tend to be less knowledgeable about admissibility issues, which can result in some uncertainty for travellers. If an applicant’s TRP is rejected upon attempting to enter Canada by sea, they will have to exit the country immediately by flight at their own expense.
While entering Canada by air will ensure that the applicant has the greatest chance of TRP approval upon arrival in Canada, the applicant’s chance of success can be maximized prior to entering the country by ensuring their Temporary Resident Permit completed to the highest standard through hiring an immigration lawyer to facilitate the application process. Particularly because the government will not conduct eligibility assessments for individuals and Canadian consulates no longer offer walk in services due to budget cuts, the services of a qualified immigration lawyer to analyze the equivalency of convictions is invaluable. Applicants are advised to work with an immigration lawyer to ensure the immigration strategy with the greatest chance of success is being pursued.
FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.