Denial of entry into Canada due to a US criminal record
ExpungementExpungement, also known as a petition to set aside criminal conviction, is available for certain offenses. This is a procedure that occurs in the state court where the original conviction occurred and can take several months. The rules vary depending on the state where you were convicted and the type of offense. In most states certain offenses, including alcohol-related offenses such as DUI, cannot be expunged - ever. You have the right to represent yourself, but if you hire an attorney, that attorney must be licensed to practice law in the state of the conviction.
If the offense you seek to expunge is eligible for expungement, criminal expungement typically requires that (1) you have never expunged another criminal conviction; (2) you have completed all the terms of your sentence; (3) a designated amount of time has passed since the completion of your sentence; and (4) you have only been convicted of one crime.
Criminal RehabilitationIf your offense cannot be expunged from your record under US law because it was too recent or is an alcohol-related offense, you may still be eligible to file an Application for Criminal Rehabilitation with the Canadian government. This procedure occurs through the Canadian consulate serving your area and can take as long as one year. You have a right to represent yourself, but if you choose to hire a representative, that representative must be admitted to a Canadian Law Society (similar to a State Bar Association in the US).
If your sentence was completed more than 10 years ago, the procedure is relatively simple. If your sentence was completed less than 10 years ago but more than 5 years ago, you will have to take additional steps to show that you have reformed and are not a risk for admission to Canada.
Canadian Temporary VisaIf your criminal sentence was completed less than 5 years ago, you will not be eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation. However, if you can demonstrate, for example, that you have a job opportunity in Canada, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary visa through Immigration Canada.
Again, although you have the right to represent yourself in such a procedure, if you choose to hire a professional representative, that person should be a member of the Law Society for the Canadian province where you seek to reside or work.