581     Minister's Permits & Approvals of Rehabilitation

If you have a criminal record and you want to legally enter Canada, you will usually need either a Minister's Permit or an Approval of Rehabilitation. A Minister's Permit gives you temporary permission to enter Canada. An Approval of Rehabilitation is harder to obtain than a Minister's Permit, but it does not expire.

Minister's Permits

If you have a criminal record and you want to enter Canada as soon as possible, then you should apply for a Minister's Permit. Most Minister's Permits are valid for only one year, and most permits are cancelled if you leave Canada. The processing fee for a Minister's Permit is $200, and the fee is not refunded even if your application is rejected.

To apply for a Minister's Permit, you must submit your application with all the necessary documents to a Canadian consulate outside of Canada. Your application must include: a copy of all court documents describing all of your charges, convictions, and sentences; a copy of the law you were convicted under; police clearance certificates; letters of reference including a letter from your employer; and a personal statement from you. If you lived in the United States during the past ten years you must also submit an FBI police certificate.

It will take between four to ten months for your Minister's Permit application to be processed, depending on the consulate where you submit your application. Once you receive a Minister's Permit you may apply to enter Canada as a visitor. You should contact an immigration lawyer to help you apply.

Approval of Rehabilitation

An Approval of Rehabilitation is harder to obtain than a Minister's Permit, but it does not expire. An Approval of Rehabilitation allows you to enter Canada even though you have a criminal record. You can apply for an Approval of Rehabilitation if you have been convicted of an offence outside Canada and five years have passed since the end of the sentence, or if you have committed a criminal act outside Canada and five years have passed since you committed the act. Also, you must not currently be charged with any crime.

The processing fee for an Approval of Rehabilitation is $200 and it is not refunded, even if your application is rejected. To apply for an Approval you must submit your application with all the necessary documents to a Canadian consulate outside of Canada. Your application must include: a copy of each court judgment made against you; police clearance certificates; a copy of the foreign law you were charged under; and any other documents that relate to your sentence, parole, probation or pardon. If you lived in the United States during the past ten years you must also submit an FBI police certificate. You will also be asked to explain why you think you are rehabilitated.

Once you receive an Approval of Rehabilitation, you may apply to enter Canada as a visitor or as a permanent resident.

Whether you apply for a Minister's Permit or make an Application for Rehabilitation, a criminal record will make your immigration application more complicated. To find out how to clear a Canadian criminal record, refer to the Criminal Law section of Legal Line. Before you submit your application form and processing fee, you should contact an immigration lawyer or a Canada Immigration Centre for assistance.

PREVIOUS - MENU