Generally speaking citizens and permanent residents of the US (Green Card holders) do not require a special permit or visa to travel or enter Canada as tourists. However, a criminal conviction may prevent your entry into Canadian territory since individuals are required to present proof of their legal status in the United States at a Canadian port-of-entry.
For US citizens, acceptable documents to prove this status would include: US passport, Birth Certificate, or a Naturalization Certificate. For permanent residents, acceptable documents would include: a valid Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card"), or a valid I-551 endorsement in their passport.
The Canadian consulates websites states that "Canada Border Service Agency Officers at the Port-of-Entry will determine if you will be allowed to enter Canada. They may prevent the entry of persons:
- whose willingness and means to return to the USA are in doubt
- who have a criminal conviction - including DUI/DWI convictions"
In order to determine whether you will be admissible to enter Canada you should consult an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Canadian authorities will consider individual's criminally inadmissible if you were previously convicted of an offense in Canada or if you were convicted of an offence outside of Canada that if committed on Canadian territory would be considered a crime in Canada.
An example of such offences that will prohibit your entry into Canada are offences involving operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs will.
If a person wishes to enter Canada and he/she has been convicted of a crime (as described above) you must obtain Approval of Rehabilitation or a Temporary Resident Permit at a Canadian Consulate or Embassy.
According to the Canadian consulate's office "Approval of Rehabilitation may be granted if you can show that you have a stable lifestyle and that it is unlikely that you will be involved in any further criminal activity. You may apply for rehabilitation if five years have passed since the end of your sentence." Once you obtain an approval of rehabilitation this will permanently overcome inadmissibility.
Please read the special notes below offered through the Canadian consulates' office:
Note: If you have urgent and compelling reasons for entry to Canada within the next 6 months and are eligible to apply for Approval of Rehabilitation (i.e. beyond the 5 year prohibition), we encourage you to submit your Approval of Rehabilitation and Temporary Resident Permit applications at the same time.
Please read the following instructions carefully:
- Your application is subject to a NON-REFUNDABLE processing fee.
- If your application is refused, the fee will not be refunded.
- The Immigration Section offers service in both of Canada's official languages, English and French.
Documents in languages other than English or French must be accompanied by a certified translation.
How to apply
You may submit your complete application by mail or in person - each receives the same priority. You will NOT receive immediate consideration of your application. We will contact you when your application has reached our review stage. Processing times may be lengthy - especially so in cases of serious criminality.
You may need a criminal and security check if you are coming to Canada as a live-in caregiver, tourist, student, or temporary worker. If you are applying for permanent residence, you must have one done.
Security checks, also known as police certificates, are required to determine if applicants have a criminal record. They also help visa officers make sure applicants are not a security risk to Canada.