By Dayna Devonish-Montique and Abby Leung
Individuals who were convicted of a minor or serious criminal offence may be considered inadmissible to enter Canada. However, individuals can overcome this criminal inadmissibility either by applying for criminal rehabilitation or a record suspension/pardon. This blog will detail the requirements for both processes to determine eligibility to enter Canada.
Under Canada’s immigration laws, individuals who have committed or have been convicted of a minor or serious crime outside Canada may not be allowed to enter Canada and are considered “criminally inadmissible”. Depending on the crime, how long ago the crime was committed, and the individual’s behaviour since the crime was committed, individuals may still be allowed to come to Canada under this category if they are deemed rehabilitated or if an immigration officer approves an application for criminal rehabilitation.
Deemed rehabilitation under Canada’s immigration laws means that enough time has passed since the crime was committed so that the individual’s criminal history does not bar entrance to Canada. Individuals are eligible to apply for deemed rehabilitation at a port of entry if the individual only had one conviction in total or committed only one crime, at least ten years have passed since the completion of all sentences, the crime committed is not considered a serious crime in Canada, and the crime did not involve any serious property damage, physical harm to any person, or any type of weapon. If an applicant believes that they are eligible, they must provide required documents including a recent police certificate from the country they were convicted in, along with court documents for each conviction, a recent criminal record check, and a passport or birth certificate. If deemed rehabilitated, applicants will be allowed to enter Canada, provided that they meet additional requirements for entry such as visitor visa requirements. Any request for deemed rehabilitation is not guaranteed to be approved.
If an individual is not eligible to apply for deemed rehabilitation, they may apply for criminal rehabilitation if the criminal act occurred outside of Canada and if five years have elapsed since the act or since the end of the sentence imposed. An application for criminal rehabilitation for a US applicant requires submitting a state police certificate, an FBI police certificate, documents relating to the sentence imposed, and court judgments that demonstrate the charge/s, the verdict, and the sentence imposed, among other documents.
If an individual needs to travel to Canada but cannot apply for rehabilitation because five (5) years have not passed since the end of the sentence imposed or are not eligible to apply for a record suspension, they must request special permission to enter or remain in Canada. After reviewing the application, an immigration officer may advise that the applicant could apply for special permission (temporary resident’s permit) to enter Canada, or to advise that they do not recommend that the applicant travel to Canada.
Record Suspension (Pardon)
A record suspension (previously called pardon) allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence but have completed their sentence and demonstrated that they are law-abiding citizens to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. A record suspension has the effect of removing a person’s criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). However, a record suspension does not erase a convicted offence nor guarantees entry or visa privileges to another country. A record suspension can be revoked or cease to have effect if the applicant is convicted of a new indictable offence, is found to no longer be of good conduct, found to have made a misleading statement, or is found ineligible for a record suspension at the time the record suspension was ordered. If a record suspension is revoked or ceases to have effect, the record of offence is added back to CPIC. An applicant may apply for a record suspension if they were convicted of an offence in Canada under a federal act or regulation of Canada as an adult and/or were convicted of a crime in another country and were transferred to Canada while serving that sentence under the International Transfer of Offenders Act. An applicant does not need to apply for a record suspension if the applicant only received an absolute or conditional discharge, or were only convicted in a youth court or youth justice court.
To apply for a record suspension, an applicant must have completed all of their sentences which includes all fines, costs, restitutions, sentences of imprisonment, conditional sentences, probation orders, etc. The waiting period begins after an applicant has completed all of their sentences. The following table provides a short summary of the waiting periods:
|Before June 29, 2010||· 5 years – an offence prosecuted by indictment |
· 3 years – an offence punishable on summary conviction
|Between June 29, 2010 and March 12, 2012||· 10 years – serious personal injury offence including manslaughter, an offence where an individual was sentenced to a prison term of 2 years or more, and an offence referred to in Schedule 1 that was prosecuted by indictment |
· 5 years – any other offence by indictment and an offence referred to in Schedule 1 that is punishable on summary conviction
· 3 years – an offence other than the ones mentioned above, that is punishable on summary conviction.
|On or after March 13, 2012||· 10 years – an offence prosecuted by indictment |
· 5 years – an offence that is punishable on summary conviction.
If eligible to apply, applicants can apply directly to the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) for a Record Suspension. Applicants must provide their criminal record, court information for each of their convictions, local police record checks, and documents to support identification, among other forms.
While criminal rehabilitation and record suspensions appear similar on its face, an important difference is that criminal rehabilitation focuses on criminal offences committed outside Canada while record suspensions focus on criminal offences committed within Canada. When the conviction is inside Canada, rehabilitation is not an option and applicants can apply for record suspension. Conversely, when the conviction is outside Canada, record suspension is usually not an option (unless convicted of a crime in another country and were transferred to Canada while serving that sentence under the International Transfer of Offenders Act) and applicants can apply for rehabilitation. Important to note, if an individual committed offences both inside and Canada and, they require both an approval of rehabilitation and a record suspension in order to be admissible to Canada. The request for criminal rehabilitation cannot be made until a record suspension is first approved, unless the individual has only one (1) summary conviction offence in Canada.
If you have any questions related to your immigration law matter, please visit our website or contact Dayna Devonish-Montique at Devry Smith Frank LLP at 705-526-9328 ext 101 or at email@example.com.
“This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique, and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situations and needs.”
This blog was co-authored by student-at-law, Abby Leung