People who want to enter Canada from another country but have criminal records (even if they’re non-violent offences like DUI) may be inadmissible. That means they could be denied entry at the border or refused an eTA when they attempt to fly to Canada. Criminal inadmissibility may also prevent a person from being eligible for immigration programs like spousal sponsorship. Even a criminal record dating back to 15 to 20 years ago can still make a person ineligible for immigration to Canada.

With that in mind, if your spouse has a criminal record, the sponsorship application to get them to Canada will likely be refused due to criminal inadmissibility. Both outland and inland spousal sponsorship can be affected by criminal inadmissibility. It doesn’t matter if you have a valid immigration visa – if it’s found that you have a criminal record, you will face trouble when you try to enter the country. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you might be wondering if there’s a way around it. Canada immigration consultants from Bright Immigration shares some information:

Resolving the Issue of Criminal Inadmissibility

As mentioned above, Canada does not allow inadmissible foreign nationals with criminal records to enter its borders, even if they happen to be partners of permanent residents or Canadian citizens. That said, there is a possibility of overcoming criminal inadmissibility. If this is successful, one can be allowed to fly to Canada as sponsored by their spouse despite their criminal history. This is through Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation which helps a person from a foreign country who is criminally inadmissible to petition the government authorities to pronounce them safe or “rehabilitated.” Criminal rehabilitation may take between six and twelve months. It’s a permanent solution, and it needs to be done once, given the person is never arrested again. 

A Temporary Resident Permit can allow a person to overcome their criminal inadmissibility, but this is just a temporary solution that is only applicable for a limited time period. This won’t help your spousal sponsorship application. The Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation is the only way to make a criminally inadmissible person eligible for spousal sponsorship. 

Take note that eligibility for Criminal Rehabilitation Canada requires that five years have already passed since the completion of any sentence, including given probation or payment of fines.

Deemed Rehabilitation

A foreign national convicted of one non-serious crime in their home country may be “deemed rehabilitated” if it has been at least ten years since the sentence they receive is finished. But to be eligible for this, the Canadian equivalent of the offence committed must have a maximum sentence of no more than ten years in prison. The incident should not involve the use of a weapon, physical harm to other people, or major property damage. Once a person is “deemed rehabilitated” by Canadian immigration, they may be eligible for spousal sponsorship. 


These are the basics of what you need to understand about sponsoring a partner with a criminal record. As you can see, there’s no easy way to enter Canada if the foreign national has a criminal history, but there’s still a possibility. This could be discussed with you in-depth by a reputable immigration consultant. 

Bright Immigration can provide you with expert immigration consultancy services. If you’re looking for professional help from a trusted firm, please contact us at or call 1-888-404-8472.

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