Grounds for refusal include past criminal offences, health risks to Canadians, lack of financial resources to visit Canada, presenting fraudulent documents at the border, misrepresentation and other breaches of the Immigration & Refugee Protection Act.

Certain individuals may be able to overcome an inadmissibility right at the border if they can put forth compelling reasons why they should be allowed to enter Canada. Specifically, U.S. citizens and individuals from visa exempt countries can request a Temporary Resident Permit on social, economic or humanitarian grounds at any border crossing.

Temporary Resident Permits

The most common inadmissibility that triggers the need to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit is the existence of a prior criminal record. Canada’s laws on restricting entry for individuals with prior criminal records are very strict. For example, a person charged or convicted of driving under the influence is inadmissible to Canada until they have been Criminally Rehabilitated, which is a separate application. Since Criminal Rehabilitation applications can take up to a year to process, a Temporary Resident Permit can act as a bridge until the inadmissibility issues are resolved.

For individuals with prior criminal offences:

  • The seriousness of the offence;
  • The chances of successful settlement without committing further offences;
  • Behavioural factors involved (drugs, alcohol);
  • Evidence that the person has reformed or rehabilitated;
  • Pattern of criminal behaviour (e.g. was the offence a single event and out of character?);
  • Completion of all sentences, fines paid or restitution made;
  • Outstanding criminal charges;
  • Restriction of travel following probation or parole;
  • Eligibility for rehabilitation or a pardon;
  • Time elapsed since the offence occurred;
  • Controversy or risk caused by presence of the person in Canada;
  • Any risk a foreign national will require public assistance.

For individuals with a medical inadmissibility:

  • The essential purpose of the person’s presence in Canada;
  • If medical treatment is involved, whether or not the treatment is reasonably available in Canada or elsewhere;
  • The anticipated effectiveness of treatment;
  • The tangible or intangible benefits which may accrue to the person concerned and to others;
  • The bona fides of the sponsor, host, or employer
  • The general health risks to other Canadians

Temporary Resident Permit applications can be submitted to Canadian consulates abroad or, for U.S. citizens and visa exempt passport holders, an application can be made at the border. The upside to applying at the border is the instant adjudication of file, though it carries the risk of being refused, forcing the application to return to their country of origin. The downside of applying at the consulate is the long processing times that can run over six months.

Visitors to Canada who suspect they might encounter an inadmissibility issue should contact an experienced immigration lawyer as early as possible prior to their scheduled visit to Canada.

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