Citizens of the United States with a misdemeanor arrest or conviction may be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada. It is essential to keep in mind that in assessing an individual’s eligibility, the severity of their offense(s) must be measured by Canadian law. How a given offense would be treated in the United States is irrelevant. Because of this, what are considered to be minor offenses (i.e. misdemeanor DUI) may result in inadmissibility to Canada, particularly if the equivalent Canadian law is an indictable or hybrid offense. This means that class A misdemeanor may be treated the same as class B, C, or D misdemeanors. However, as misdemeanors are in most cases equivalent to less or non-serious offences in Canada, they can result in a more successful Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation application, contrary to a felony or serious offense. In assessing your situation, getting in touch with an experienced and qualified Canadian immigration lawyer will provide you with indispensible information regarding your offence(s) and your next steps towards successfully entering Canada.
In order to either temporarily or permanently overcome inadmissibility, individuals who wish to enter Canada with a misdemeanor may either apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), or for Criminal Rehabilitation (CR). Temporary Resident Permits allow offenders to enter Canada for a limited period of time determined by an immigration official, whereas Criminal Rehabilitation grants individuals with a past misdemeanor permanent admissibility to Canada. Misdemeanor convictions that can render an individual inadmissible to Canada include, but are not limited to, theft, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a controlled substance, assault, resisting arrest, and driving under the influence (including DUIs pled down to wet reckless driving). Individuals with a single non-violent misdemeanor on their criminal record may be deemed rehabilitated, and thus eligible to enter Canada freely, once ten years have elapsed since the completion of all sentencing (including payment of fines, jail time, community service, and counseling). It is important to note that the ten-year count towards deemed rehabilitated begins only once all sentencing has been completed. A common mistake amongst offenders is beginning the countdown as of the date of their arrest. Once an individual is deemed rehabilitated, they will not need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation in order to enter the country.
While misdemeanors usually render travellers inadmissible and therefore, applying for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation is necessary in order to be able to enter Canada without hindrance, they are treated as being less serious. Individuals are far more likely to be granted either temporary or permanent admissibility if their offences are misdemeanors: in particular, non-violent misdemeanor offences, such as possession of a controlled substance, or DUI that resulted in no bodily harm.
Nonetheless, foreign nationals possessing a misdemeanor on their criminal record must have permission to enter the country; otherwise, it is highly probable that they will be denied entry at the border, and deemed inadmissible to Canada. A misdemeanor conviction as “small” as a speeding ticket may hinder an individual’s ability to enter Canada, and while obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation is easier when the given conviction is a misdemeanor rather than felony, it may nonetheless render the applicant inadmissible to Canada.