How to get a Canadian eTA with a criminal record

canada eta with criminal record

Canada launched their Electronic Travel Authorization system in 2015, and since then, foreign nationals of 60 countries are able to easily obtain their Canadian eTA to visit the country. Whether a traveler with a criminal record can get an eTA to travel to Canada will depend greatly on the type of conviction, when did it occur, and other criteria established by the Canadian government.

The automated eTA Canada system determines a foreign national’s eligibility to travel to the country. Travelers may complete the Canadian eTA application online form with their personal details, including full name, date and place of birth, citizenship, street address and contact information. They need to enter their passport number, expiration and issuing date. All applicants who wish to get the eTA for Canada must answer a series of security questions in regards to their criminal history and health condition.

Do I need to declare spent convictions to get a eTA for Canada?

While the eTA for Canada makes it easier to obtain an authorization to enter the country, the system is designed to identify people that may pose a threat to the nation’s security. The Canadian eTA system contrasts data given by the applicant against security databases, this allows them to determine whether a person should be granted an eTA or not.

When completing the eTA form, the applicant must answer the security questions honestly. These questions inquiry on the applicant’s criminal history and each applicant is strongly advised not to lie on their application. Lying could not only cause the rejection of the Canada eTA but the applicant might be sanctioned in other ways as well.

These are the security questions that are included in the Canada eTA application form, which should be answered sincerely.

  • Have you ever been refused entry into Canada or any other country? – If the answer is yes, the applicant needs to specify each instance entry was denied with the country and the date of the event
  • Have you ever committed or been convicted of a criminal offense? – If the answer is yes, the applicant needs to list each offense, the date, location and the sentence received
  • Do you have a serious medical condition for which you are receiving regular treatment? Check whether you have any conditions listed on the application: untreated syphilis, untreated drug/alcohol addiction, untreated mental health issue with psychosis.
  • Have you or your family member been in close contact with a person with tuberculosis? If yes, the applicant will need to answer these questions as well:

– Is your contact the result of being a healthcare provider?
– Have you ever been diagnosed with tuberculosis?

Answering yes to any of the above listed questions does not automatically mean that the eTA to Canada will be denied. The system requires each applicant to provide additional details if they answer yes to one or more of the questions. Each case will be evaluated individually. Depending on the crime the applicant committed, how long ago it occurred and their behavior since, they may be admissible to Canada.

Can I enter Canada with criminal charges or convictions?

Some foreign nationals might be able to enter Canada even if they have had criminal charges or a conviction. It will depend on the crime, how much time has passed since the conviction, and how the person has behaved since the conviction or criminal charge occurred.

Canada restricts people who have committed an offence in their territory or elsewhere. Some examples of acts that will have an impact on whether the person can enter Canada or not include:

  • Subject to a warrant where a charge will be laid against the person
  • Charges are pending against the traveler
  • The trial of the applicant is underway
  • The person is trying to flee prosecution in their country of residence

Canada also establishes differences between summary and indictable offenses. Summary offenses are less serious offenses and indictable offenses are more severe. If a person applying for an eTA to Canada has committed a summary offense, they are more likely to able to enter Canada. If the person has committed a crime in their home country that would be considered an indictable (or hybrid) offense in Canada punishable by a maximum prison term of at least 10 years, then they would not be able to enter the country.

If a traveler has been acquitted of an offense at trial or at an appeal court, they are admissible and can enter Canada. Each country has a way of disposing a criminal matter that may look like a pardon or acquittal. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) deals with these matters and determines which ones are convictions and which ones aren’t.

People who committed a crime when they were young are generally admissible and can visit Canada. Foreigners who were convicted of an offense when they were under 18 years of age may apply for the eTA to Canada and still get one.

Foreigners who wish to visit Canada with a criminal record need to keep in mind that if they are denied an eTA to Canada, they are still able to apply for a Canadian visa at an embassy or consulate. They may be asked to present several additional documents along with a valid passport.

Foreign nationals who have a criminal history may still be able to visit Canada in the following cases:

  • The person is able to satisfy an immigration officer that they meet the legal requirement to be deemed rehabilitated
  • The person has applied for rehabilitation and is approved
  • The person has been granted a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon)

When applying for an eTA to visit Canada, the applicant must be honest at all times. Trying to enter a country illegally has serious consequences, not just deportation.

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