by Andy J. Semotiuk Member of the US and Canadian bars
Immigrating to Canada: What if I have a criminal conviction?
Most people assume, without question, that just about anyone can enter Canada. This is not true. The Canadian Customs and Immigration Officers have ultimate authority to permit or deny anyone entry to Canada. No one has an automatic right to enter Canada. However, most people if they have no criminal record are allowed entry. What if you have a criminal conviction?
If you have been charged or convicted of any crime you may be prohibited from entering Canada to visit, work, study or immigrate.
In general, people are considered to be inadmissible to Canada due to past criminal activity if they were convicted of an offence in Canada or were convicted of an offence outside of Canada that is considered a crime in Canada. In order to enter Canada in the future, these people need to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit or Approval of Rehabilitation at a Canadian Consulate or Embassy.
Are you deemed rehabilitated?
You may be deemed rehabilitated if at least 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentence imposed for your crime. For example if you were convicted of driving under the influence it must be at least 10 years since your full driving privileges were restored.
To be eligible you must usually only have one conviction and the conviction must be of a less serious nature, that in Canada would have been punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of fewer than 10 years.
You may be deemed rehabilitated at a port of entry without submitting an application or paying any fee. However if you are not certain that you are deemed rehabilitated or would prefer to be deemed rehabilitated before your planned trip to Canada, you may apply for rehabilitation through our office and submit a non-refundable processing fee. You must apply well in advance of your trip as routine applications can take six months to process.
If you do meet the requirements for deemed rehabilitation the Consulate will send you a letter to that effect. If not, and you are eligible to apply for permanent rehabilitation, the Consulate will consider your application for rehabilitation.
Were you convicted as a juvenile?
In Canada, a juvenile offender is someone who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age. If you were convicted for an act committed when you were under 18 years of age it is possible that you are not criminally inadmissible.
If you have had only two summary convictions in Canada, you may be deemed rehabilitated and no longer inadmissible to Canada if:
5 years have passed since the sentence imposed was
served or to be served
you have had no subsequent convictions and
you have not been refused a pardon.
Are you eligible to apply for rehabilitation?
You may apply for rehabilitation if at least five years have passed since the completion of the sentence imposed for your crime. For example if you were convicted of driving under the influence it must be at least five years since your full driving privileges were restored.
You may apply for permanent rehabilitation through our office. You must apply well in advance of your planned trip to Canada as routine applications can take six months to process. Non-routine applications can take up to two years to process. If you have genuine, compelling reasons to enter Canada within a shorter time frame, please enclose a letter which explains your reasons in detail and states the date by which you need to enter Canada. In evaluating the application the Consulate will look for evidence that you have taken steps to change your behaviour and will no longer pose a potential danger to Canadians.
What is a temporary resident permit?
If you are not deemed rehabilitated or you are not yet eligible for rehabilitation or you are not eligible for a pardon in Canada, you may apply for a temporary resident permit. If justified by compelling circumstances, foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada, including people who have a criminal conviction, may be issued a temporary resident permit allowing them to enter or remain in Canada.
You must apply well in advance of your planned trip to Canada as routine applications can take six months to process. If you have genuine, compelling reasons to enter Canada within a shorter time frame, please enclose a letter which explains your reasons in detail and states the date by which you need to enter Canada. In evaluating your application, the Consulate will weigh your reasons for seeking entry against the potential risk to Canadians.
For help in filing your application contact me at Andy@myworkvisa.com or call my office at the number indicated on this site.