There are crimes that will make you inadmissible to Canada whether you are a foreign national, temporary resident, or permanent resident. In fact, any criminal convictions that are considered indictable offenses can be the reason for criminal inadmissibility, and you, as a foreign national, or a holder of a permanent or temporary resident permit can be denied entry by the border officer. 

If the crime has been committed in the US, it does not even matter whether it was a misdemeanor or felony: you may be denied entry back into Canada, even if you are a resident. Here, we will consider and describe which crimes may make you criminally inadmissible. You should also consider what long-term consequences could be: for certain criminal activities on Canadian soil, you may even be declined your residence, work or study permit, or even citizenship. 

Types of Crimes That Will Make You Inadmissible to Canada

Canada is a free country and one of the safest countries in the world. This is not only because Canadians are very tolerant of other peoples and cultures, but also because Canadian immigration authorities are very thorough with their screening, and the border patrol is as well. If you are a foreign national, a rule of thumb is that if something is illegal in your country, it may be illegal in Canada as well. 

However, as there are millions of tourists on temporary stays in Canada, there are also many people smuggling prohibited things.

Among these is immigration fraud in Canada, whereby some individuals may choose to get into a false marriage or even falsify some of their papers to get a Canadian visa. This is a serious offense and can result in suspending your right to enter Canada or applying for another visa for five years. In reality, this does happen, so it is always advisable to stay on the right track and avoid issues down the road. 

Of course, it is clear that the list of criminal offenses is much longer, so for this reason, we will consider them all in more detail. We will cover the following types of crimes that make you inadmissible to Canada: 

  • Crimes against public order
  • Crimes that involve violence
  • Crimes that involve drugs
  • Crimes that involve weapons
  • Crimes against the administration of law
  • Sexual crimes
  • Crimes connected to privacy breach
  • While collar crimes

Against Public Order

Crimes against public order are considered indictable offenses. They are categorized as criminal activity and they can prevent you from getting your visa or a permit. When it comes to these crimes, include: 

  • DUI (including DWI, DWAI, reckless driving, etc.)
  • Careless driving
  • Indecent exposure
  • Disorderly conduct

Although generally these offenses are not considered a criminal activity, it is still clear that they could impact your ability to get accepted across the Canadian border. In fact, these offenses could definitely be a red light to Canadian immigration authorities, even if they have been committed elsewhere. The reasoning is that if you cannot follow the laws of your own country, why would you do that in another country, such as Canada. Border agents and immigration authorities work together to keep Canada safe. 

breaking and entering canada

Involves Violence

All offenses that involve violence will deem you inadmissible to Canada, and this can happen even at the port of entry. Do not forget that even if an offense or a crime happened in another country, to Canadian border police/officers can still use this, and they can forbid you from entering. In fact, it is always best to act according to the law, and following the speed limits and not robbing anyone is as easy as it gets. 

  • Vehicular manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary)
  • Hit and run
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Battery
  • Harassment
  • Hate crimes
  • Kidnapping

Involves Drugs

Another on the list of indictable offenses are offenses involving drugs, especially larger quantities and drugs that are meant for resale/trafficking. This is the case with all drugs, with some exceptions to marijuana. You can be deemed inadmissible even if you have committed the crime in another country. However, if you possess small quantities of marijuana in the US (less than 30 grams), you may still be admissible to Canada. Owning paraphernalia is not a crime in Canada. Here are some offenses involving drugs: 

  • drug trafficking
  • Drug possession
  • Drug manufacturing or cultivation

Involves Weapons

If you want to own a weapon in Canada, you have to have a license and a registration certificate. Unlike in the US, you cannot carry a weapon in Canada. The only exception here is some indigenous peoples, who may have to carry weapons to hunt and feed their families with the catch/prey, where they do not even have to have firearm safety testing, only for financial reasons. 66% of Canadians even agree that stricter gun control measures are necessary to ensure everyone’s safety. 

  • Use offenses (using firearms, using imitation firearms, contravention of storage regulations, pointing a firearm, etc.)
  • Possession offenses (possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes, carrying a weapon while attending public meetings, carrying a concealed weapon, unauthorized possession of a firearm, unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon or restricted weapon, possession of a weapon or ammunition for the said weapon while it is known to the holder/owner that this is a prohibited/restricted weapon, possession at an unauthorized place, unauthorized possession in a motor vehicle) 

Against the Administration of Law

These are not considered crimes unless they involve weapons. The offenses against the administration of law are generally considered hybrid offenses, but they are still likely to result in making you an inadmissible person. 

  • Probation violations
  • failure to appear
  • Resisting an officer (resisting arrest)
  • Aiding & abetting
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Evading arrest

Sexual Crimes

Sexual assault and accessing or possessing child pornography are hybrid offenses. However, producing child pornography is a serious, indictable offense that could deem you inadmissible for a long time. This category of offenses is usually judged with harsh penalties. 

  • Sexual assault
  • Child pornography

Invasion of Privacy

Stalking and computer crimes are hybrid offenses. However, each case is judged by its own severity. When it comes to computer crimes, they can even include refusing access to someone’s data when they have the right to it, but also other offenses, such as cyberbullying and even situations that could bring someone’s life into danger. 

  • Stalking
  • Computer crimes

Other White Collar Crimes

When it comes to white-collar crimes, they include an array of offenses and criminal activities that usually have a financial background. Money laundering, identity theft, and insurance fraud are the types that we are familiar with and that happen relatively frequently. However, it is necessary to note that, although they are generally considered non-violent and summary offenses, if there is more than CAD5,000 involved, this is an indictable offense. 

  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Credit card fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Identity theft
  • Conspiracy
  • Wire fraud
  • Racketeering
  • White collar crimes
  • Solicitation
  • Extortion
  • Securities fraud
  • Insurance fraud
  • Forgery
  • Bribery
  • Telemarketing fraud
  • Tax evasion

Who Does Criminal Admissibility Affect?

Anyone visiting Canada with a criminal history could be affected by the criminal inadmissibility. This is true for all those having a Bridging Open Work Permit, those looking to visit their families, visit Canada for tourist purposes, and even those wanting to visit Canada to continue their studies or work. Many people only realize this too late, so it is important to stay informed about all changes that could happen in the field. Remember that grounds for inadmissibility are taken seriously in Canada and that every border services officer knows that access to Canada is a privilege, not a right. 

How To Get to Canada Even With Past Convictions?

If you want to migrate to Canada but have had previous convictions, you may want to consider getting rehabilitated. You can apply for rehabilitation if 10 years have passed since you committed the crime. However, this is only the case if the charge is shorter than 10 years. This is true for offenses both inside and outside of Canada. 

For more information, you would need to speak with an immigration lawyer – as simple assaults and crimes punishable by a long criminal sentence are not the same, you may also need additional paperwork in addition to the rehabilitation. This may include having to ask for a pardon. In any case, an immigration lawyer can help you collect enough evidence to enter Canada even with past convictions, depending on the nature and severity of the convictions. 

Temporary Resident Permit

If you have past convictions, but also a good reason to go to Canada, you may want to consider asking for a TRV – Temporary Resident Visa or Temporary Resident Permit. With this in mind, you should understand that this document will allow you to stay in Canada for a short time only – usually six months to three years. With this in mind, you also need to be aware that Canadian border authorities may still deem you inadmissible, so acting in a good manner is the best you can do. 

Apply for Criminal Rehabilitation

Check Out Criminally Inadmissible to Canada Due to a Criminal Charge or Conviction in or Outside of Canada?:

To be considered rehabilitated, you need to show that you are leading a good and honest life that is unlikely to lead to more offenses in the future. This would mean staying out of trouble, driving responsibly, and following all laws. If five years have passed after you have finished your sentence, you may be eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation. This allows you lifetime entry rights into Canada, but only if approved. You will need to apply through the Canadian consulate and may take up to a year to be approved/granted. 

Deemed To Be Rehabilitated

Deemed rehabilitation is a rehabilitation process that is applied to non-violent offenses that do not involve drugs or weapons. You can be deemed rehabilitated only if 10 or more years have passed since the offense was made. You will need to bring paperwork to prove that there has been no conviction in the meantime and that your sentence has passed. You should bear in mind that the Canadian border official can still deem you inadmissible. 

This can happen for common reasons, medical reasons, or an offense. In the same way, you can be deemed inadmissible on health grounds, to protect public health, you can also be declined entry based on past jail time, passionate crimes, or even a minor crime. The thing is that the denial of entry is one of the instruments that the Canadian government uses to protect its citizens, and a range of people who have committed a form of fraud, possession (such as possession of cocaine), and many more are all punishable by law and may lead to your deportation or inadmissibility. 

For these reasons, it is important to have a clean police certificate. This is true for all, including American citizens and all other nations in the world. The terms of inadmissibility may change periodically, but an obvious offense can cause Canadian inadmissibility issues and cause long-term barriers to immigration, even temporary immigration for a good reason. With this in mind, international rights violations, war crimes, and many more can extend the period of time when you cannot enter Canadian society – often indefinitely. 

hybrid offence canada


What Crimes Are Eligible for Filtering?

There are many crimes that you could commit that could deem you inadmissible to Canada. These include, but are not limited to the invasion of privacy, sexual crimes, crimes against the administration of law, as well as any crimes that involve guns or other firearms, drugs, and violence. The list goes on to include all crimes against public order. 

Do Canadian Customs Ask About Criminal Records?

Yes, Canadian customs officers can ask you about a criminal record or past criminal offenses. These questions relate to both criminal offenses made in Canada and abroad (including your domestic country and any other countries you may have visited). When asked, you have to tell the truth to the immigration officer or the customs officer, as telling lies is a criminal offense and may result in you being inadmissible into the country. 

Does Criminal Record Affect Immigration?

Yes, having a criminal record can affect your immigration, even if this is a minor offense in your country. Whenever asked, you should reply openly and truthfully, to both the border officer and the visa office officer. Besides this, you should also avoid committing any crimes while IN Canada, as this may restrict you from using many Canadian immigration options to get a permanent residence or return to Canada at a later date. 

Do You Need a Background Check to Go to Canada?

Yes, you do. Canadian immigration law says that you have to provide all the details about your background and possibly criminal offenses when asked about this. This includes common offenses and minor offenses. Always beware that Canadian immigration officers have access to US police databases and that they can see a lot of information about you. Although the exact information they have is secretive (for security reasons), it is safe to assume that they see your police records. 

Final Thoughts

If you are trying to enter Canada, you should know that there are many offenses and crimes that can make an individual inadmissible. A successful application will mean that your police certificate is cleared and the Canadian immigration application has nothing attached to it that could signal to the border officers that you may be inadmissible. You need to understand that there are ways, such as rehabilitation, to showcase that your criminal past is behind you, but that this is not always acceptable enough to lift inadmissibility to Canada.