While Canadians have lately been hearing lots of anecdotal refused entry stories concerning those travelling to the United States, we don’t hear as often about all the foreign nationals who are turned away at Canada’s borders after being declared inadmissible.

No, we’re not talking about arch-criminals or terrorists here. We’re speaking of regular people. People with jobs. With children. With dreams. But for whom past or current issues in their lives have led to Canada shutting its doors on them. 

The Five Main Types of Immigration Inadmissibility to Canada

This door slamming affects both those trying to enter temporarily, and more commonly those seeking to immigrate on a permanent basis. There are primarily five bases for inadmissibility:

  1. Criminal Inadmissibility;
  2. Medical Inadmissibility;
  3. Financial Inadmissibility;
  4. Misrepresentation Inadmissibility;
  5. Security Inadmissibility.

Everyone wanting to come Canada for a holiday, temporary work, to study, or to settle permanently needs to reflect on whether anything in their backgrounds might lead to Canada refusing entry. Even permanent residents already able to freely come and go from Canada can get trapped by criminal and misrepresentation inadmissibility, and wind up permanently barred from their country of choice!

How to Know if You Might Be Inadmissible to Canada

How do you know you might have an inadmissibility problem before the Canada Border Services Agency or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada tells you? Follow the following self test questions:

Q: Have I ever been convicted of a “criminal offence,” or an offence that even if it isn’t “criminal" in my own country, might fall into the criminal category somewhere else? For Canada, this generally does NOT include driving offences, unless alcohol, death or serious injury to another was involved. It does include anything to do with drugs (even very small quantities of “soft” drugs), theft, fraud, dishonesty to law enforcement or the courts, and violence.

Q: Do I have a medical illness that could require significant medical treatment - now or in the future. This usually won’t apply to those only seeking to come to Canada as visitors for a few months, but can be a major impediment for long term residency because of the free availability of publicly funded health care.

Q: Do I have enough funds (with proof) to support me while I am in Canada, or have I obtained authorization to work where that employment income would support me? 

Q: Have I lied or made a misstatement at any time in dealing with the Government of Canada concerning my immigration? This can be a tricky problem to diagnose, as you might have been truthful and the government thinks you were lying, or you might have inadvertently misstated something that you believed to be true at the time you said it. 

Q: Could I be considered a security threat to Canada? This is one you really shouldn’t worry about, as very few people will fall into this category, and making such a determination falls on the government. 

How to Solve Your Canadian Immigration Inadmissibility Problems

So what’s to be done? If you’ve got a potential or actual inadmissibility problem, you definitely need a lawyer. There are some forms of immigration that you might be able to do yourself, but inadmissibility qualifies as “complex immigration” with all sorts of convoluted policies and case precedents; get a professional to help you.

Each type of inadmissibility has its own fix, all of which depend on presenting strong factual evidence to the government that you aren’t in fact inadmissible, or should be excused from your inadmissibility because of your personal circumstances. 

  1. For criminal inadmissibility, you may have already been “deemed rehabilitated” if the crime(s) was minor and in the distant past. Or you might need to submit a formal application for rehabilitation. You may need to gather criminal record checks from every place you have lived, as well as court records concerning every criminal incident. An opinion from a foreign lawyer might even be required if there is debate over how to translate the offence you were convicted of to an equivalent offence in Canada, since offence severity has a significant impact on rehabilitation potential. 
  2. For medical inadmissibility, securing expert opinions from medical doctors may be required.
  3. For financial inadmissibility, producing bank account and investment statements and income tax returns could be necessary. 
  4. For misstatement inadmissibility, you might need to convince the government that you never really made a misstatement. 
  5. For security inadmissibility, you might need to convince the government that you are not the person the government thinks you are, or that the information the government has received about you is unreliable. 

Some of these fixes might be accomplished through negotiations, others by going to the Immigration & Refugee Board, and some might require recourse to the Federal Court.