On August 9, Canada opened its borders to fully vaccinated United States citizens and permanent residents for non-essential travel. When the updated policy was announced, the government indicated that the border would open fully for vaccinated travellers on September 7. Potential entrants will need to have been fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by Health Canada at least 14 days prior to entry as well as take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. As of now, the government has not hinted that it intends on pushing the September 7 date back, but in its initial statement regarding the border, the government said that the border would open “provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable.”
This relatively vague language suggests that the Canadian government could push back the date should it determine that the COVID-19 situation in Canada is such that opening the borders would not be advisable. However, as we close in on the September 7, date, it is increasingly unlikely that this will occur, despite rising COVID-19 case rates in Canada, as vaccinated travellers are considered low risk according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam. If you are planning to travel to Canada as a non-Canadian citizen, be sure to monitor the news for the next week in order to make sure you will be allowed into the country when you do travel.
If the recent border restrictions allow you to travel to Canada when you were previously inadmissible because of the border restrictions, there are still some other ways you could be deemed inadmissible that you will need to consider before booking a ticket. Examples of such inadmissibility are criminal inadmissibility and medical inadmissibility.
If you are seeking to enter Canada from abroad and have a criminal record, you risk being denied entry. There are some steps you can take in order to check your eligibility or even have your criminal record waived for the purposes of entering Canada. For example, if your criminal record is for a marijuana-related offence, you may still be allowed to enter Canada, as possession of marijuana is legal in Canada. Possession of up to 30 grams is allowed in Canada, so if your charge was for under that amount, you may not be denied entry. However, if your charge involved you being in possession of over 30 grams or trafficking you may not be permitted to enter.
Certain charges, such as a DUI conviction, can make individuals inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. If someone has a charge that reaches the level of serious criminality, they are in theory deemed inadmissible to enter Canada forever.
However, there are different methods for overcoming the finding of inadmissibility based on criminality. Depending on the charge and length of time since the charge, you may be eligible for deemed rehabilitation, individual rehabilitation, record suspension or discharge, or a temporary residence permit in order to be able to enter Canada.
If at least 10 years have passed since your criminal charge, you may be permitted to enter Canada. Eligibility for deemed rehabilitation depends on the seriousness of the charge, the extent of your record, and the time that has passed since the charges. Deemed rehabilitation is only available for charges which if committed in Canada would come with a maximum prison sentence of fewer than ten years.
Individual rehabilitation is available when it has been five or more years since the end of your last criminal sentence. If this is the case, you can claim you have been rehabilitated. In order to be eligible, you must establish that you are unlikely to commit any further crimes.
If you received a record suspension or discharge of your charges in a foreign country, the suspension or discharge may also be valid in Canada. Depending on the country and the circumstances, your record suspension or discharge may help you enter Canada.
Temporary residence permits are used to grant entry to foreign nationals who would otherwise be deemed ineligible for entry to Canada. If you have a criminal record are not eligible for rehabilitation, or need urgent entry, you can apply for a temporary residence permit. The requirement for a temporary residence permit is that you have a valid reason to travel to Canada and the reason for travel outweighs any potential risk you may pose. Through a legal opinion letter, a skilled lawyer can explain to the border authorities their client’s criminal record and its impact and why the client deserves a temporary residence permit.
Alternatively, people may be inadmissible to Canada based on medical reasons if it is deemed that the person poses a threat to the health and safety of Canadians, or if they are likely to place a significant burden on Canada’s healthcare system. If you are deemed to exceed the cost threshold, you will likely be found inadmissible. However, you can submit evidence demonstrating your ability to mitigate the cost threshold in order to gain entry. Mitigation requires a considerable amount of documentation and you must show evidence of the services you will need in Canada, as well as how you plan to pay for them for the duration of your time in Canada.
If you have a reason for why you may be inadmissible to Canada and want to come to Canada do not assume that you will be unable to enter. We can help to ensure you have the chance of being able to enter the country, regardless of the reason for inadmissibility.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. With nearly 30 years of experience in helping clients gain admissibility to Canada, we will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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