A lot of people who want to go to Canada are disappointed to find out that having a criminal conviction in the past can lead to their inadmissibility to the country.
Dynamics of Criminal Inadmissibility in Canada
There are many ways around criminal inadmissibility for those who want to come to Canada for a visit or to stay there permanently. In particular, there are five key scenarios that must be kept in mind when determining how to address the issue:
1. It is untrue that all past convictions constitute inadmissibility. There are small offenses that Canadian authorities may not mind for the purpose of immigration, such as a disorderly conduct. In such a case, an application will be reviewed in the same manner as another application that does not indicate a prior conviction of the applicant.
2. Erasing the past conviction may remove all issues regarding inadmissibility to enter Canada.
3. A person who was once convicted, has completed his sentence and has remained free of any more convictions after that may be considered admissible after a specific period of time which may be considered as deemed rehabilitation.
4. In terms of the offense that led to the conviction, there are instances where no equivalency is found between Canadian Federal laws and the laws in the jurisdiction where the conviction was obtained. Such constitutes a technical argument that hinges on the Canadian offense having a narrower interpretation than the foreign offense.
5. A person who has a prior conviction can apply for rehabilitation at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In the case of ineligibility for rehabilitation, the individual can still apply for a Temporary Work Permit, where immigration authorities will balance the amount of risk that he carries to Canadian citizens and residents against the reasons behind his TWP application.
Criminal Rehabilitation Defined
Criminal Rehabilitation refers to a process by which individuals are allowed to enter Canada even with prior convictions leading to their inadmissibility on the basis of security.
This comes after they have convinced the government, through a formal request, that they deserve to be absolved, provided there will be no subsequent convictions. Once a request for criminal rehabilitation is approved, the person can now apply for temporary or permanent residency in Canada with the obstacle of criminal inadmissibility removed.
Only individuals convicted outside of Canada can apply for the Criminal Rehabilitation program. Convictions within Canada may be absolved by seeking Pardon with the right Canadian officials, depending on the specifics of their case.
Criminal Rehabilitation Eligibility
There are three conditions that constitute an individual’s eligibility for Criminal Rehabilitation:
(i) Commission of an act outside Canada which is considered a crime in Canada;
(ii) Conviction or admission of the act; and
(iii) Application filed at least five years since completion of sentence, if any.
To obtain a Permanent Resident Visa, an applicant for Canadian Permanent Residency with a previous conviction should be deemed rehabilitated, while those who intend to simply visit Canada may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) instead of Rehabilitation. A TRP requires renewal, while successful rehabilitation resolves the issue of conviction permanently, meaning, it ceases to be a ground for criminal inadmissibility.
How to Apply for Criminal Rehabilitation
There are different processes involved when applying for Criminal Rehabilitation, depending on the applicant’s background. The common starting point for all, however, is determining whether the conviction sprang from an offense that is classified as major or minor by Canadian standards.
This will thus require a full understanding of the Canadian criminal code relative to the existing laws of the jurisdiction where the conviction was obtained.
A person who committed a minor offense where the sentence, if any, has been served no earlier than 10 years ago may be “deemed rehabilitated” and will no longer have to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. However, a legal expert’s letter indicating his “deemed rehabilitated” status will give peace of mind when crossing Canadian borders.
If an individual obtained a conviction and completed his sentence earlier than 10 years ago, he will have to submit an application for Criminal Rehabilitation. If the conviction sprang from a serious offense, which normally gets a sentence of 10 years or longer in Canada, the person has to apply for Rehabilitation whether or not the sentence has been completed.
After determining how an offense committed outside Canada is treated under Canadian law, a Criminal Rehabilitation applicant must convince authorities that he is not likely to engage in further criminal activity.
Proving this is possible through many ways, such as showing proof of social and occupational skills, a stable lifestyle, involvement in community affairs and the conviction’s outstanding nature. An approval of application for Criminal Rehabilitation may be granted when the authority handling the case is convinced that the individual deserves a chance.
Starting the Process
The first step towards Criminal Rehabilitation is determining equivalency between the committed crime by Canadian law standards and with the standards of the country where such crime was committed. The process is not easy, requiring an analysis of the Criminal Code in Canada and other relevant Federal statutes, relative to those of the country where the conviction was obtained.
Those who are considering applying for Criminal Rehabilitation should start by getting to know the issues that surround criminality in Canada and learning how their specific circumstances can be addressed based on this knowledge.
A much better move would be to contact and obtain the services of a Canadian lawyer who specializes on the issue of immigration inadmissibility.