Entering Canada with a Criminal Record: A Canadian Immigration Lawyer’s role

A person seeking temporary or permanent residence in Canada is screened for their criminal admissibility.  This screening consists of asking questions of a person, and in many cases, asking for police records for that person.  If a police record reveals some causes for concern, then a person may be inadmissible to Canada.

However, a temporary resident permit is one remedy that may allow a person to enter Canada despite the criminal record.  Factors that are looked at include how serious the offence was, the likelihood of committing further offences, whether drugs like alcohol were involved, the number of offences committed, whether all parts of the criminal sentence were completed, and how much time has gone by since the crime was committed.

An experienced Canadian immigration lawyer knows what the above criteria mean in an individual’s case for seeking entry to Canada.  This is ascertained through a review of the criminal records of a person, and discussing them with the person seeking entry to Canada.

Other elements of getting into Canada despite a criminal record involve trying to come up with an ideal list of documents that fit into the above criteria.  This may include things such as employer records, and letters of reference in favour of the person seeking entry to Canada.

Offences that can lead to admissibility problems aren’t confined to those that are equivalent to Canada’s Criminal Code.  Rather, an offence that if committed outside of Canada that is equivalent to an Act of Parliament, can make someone inadmissible.  I once dealt with a client who committed the offence of selling illegal fireworks in an EU country.  This is not an offence under Canada’s Criminal Code.  However, it was an offence under Canada’s Explosives Act.  Based on the sentence imposed in the Canada Explosive’s Fact, the person needed a temporary resident permit to enter Canada.

The processing time for such a permit is connected to the type of entry being sought.  Thus, a person seeking a temporary visa would be subject to the relatively short waiting times associated with the processing of a visitor visa.  By contrast, a person seeking entry on a permanent basis would be subject to the longer wait times as described by Canada’s immigration department.

Failing to know that an offence is indictable if done in Canada is no excuse.  I have come across persons who failed to show offences that they were charged for, or convicted of.  Once discovered, a finding of misrepresentation is made by a Canadian immigration officer, and the result is an inability to enter Canada for two years unless another remedy is sought.  More on that in another blog entry.

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