Inadmissibility under Canadian immigration law can have very serious consequences for non-citizens, including the refusal of immigration and visa applications, denial of entry to Canada, loss of status and removal from Canada.

The first step to determining inadmissibility is determining a person’s immigration status. There are  three basic levels of immigration status in Canada: citizen, permanent resident and foreign national.

  • A citizen is the most secure in their status, and has a constitutional right to enter, remain in and leave Canada under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadian citizens are not subject to inadmissibility unless their citizenship is revoked or they have renounced their status.
  • A permanent resident is a person who has acquired permanent resident status and has not subsequently lost that status. The status will not automatically expire, but a permanent resident may face loss of their status if they do not comply with residency obligations or other conditions on their permanent residence. Permanent residents are also subject to some of the more serious forms of inadmissibility which are set out below. In many cases, a permanent resident will have a right to appeal a finding of inadmissibility to the Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
  • A foreign national is “a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident”, and has the most precarious immigration status. Foreign nationals require authorization to enter Canada and to engage in certain activities, such as working or studying. A foreign national has no independent right to enter or remain in Canada, and there is a wide range of circumstances that could render a foreign national inadmissible to Canada.

Permanent residents can be found inadmissible if they have not complied with certain conditions of their permanent residency, such as the residency obligation or other conditions that are placed on particular categories of permanent residents.

Both permanent residents and foreign nationals can be found inadmissible under some of the more serious provisions including:

  • Serious criminality
  • National Security
  • Organized Criminality
  • Misrepresentation

Foreign nationals can be found inadmissible under a much broader set of circumstances, including any failure to comply with the requirements of Canada’s immigration laws such as staying beyond the validity of a permit, working without authorization or studying without authorization. There are also more technical grounds of inadmissibility which may affect foreign nationals including medical inadmissibility or having an inadmissible family member.

Certain forms of inadmissibility may not apply to foreign nationals in specific circumstances, such as if the person is a refugee claimant or a sponsored spouse. It is prudent to get competent legal advice about possible inadmissibilities prior to making an immigration application or coming to Canada.