Denied Entry to Canada for a Criminal Record?
When you got a call from your cousin to attend her wedding, you were really excited. You packed right away, excited to see Canada and your family. But then, you found out you would not be allowed to cross the border due to your previous criminal convictions. What can you do? Criminal Rehabilitation is one way to deal with your Criminal Inadmissibility. If successfully applied for, it could solve your Inadmissibility issues and allow you to travel to Canada as you please.
What is Criminal Rehabilitation?
Criminal Rehabilitation is a process that ultimately removes your Inadmissibility. If approved, your past convictions will no longer be an issue when attempting to cross the border (or for permanent residency). Criminal Rehabilitation, once accomplished, signifies that you now have a stable lifestyle, have changed your behavior, and are unlikely to commit any further criminal acts. Criminal Rehabilitation is only available for individuals who have past criminal convictions from outside of Canada. Specifically, you are only able to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation if you committed a criminal act outside of Canada and five years have passed since then, or if you have been convicted outside of Canada and five years have passed since you completed your sentence. If you are looking to only visit Canada temporarily, you may consider applying for a Temporary Rehabilitation Permit (TRP). This permit, if granted, will allow you to enter Canada temporarily (as determined on your permit). However, a TRP is only valid for one-time entry and must be renewed each time it expires. Criminal Rehabilitation, however, permanently resolves your inadmissibility issue such that you will not need to deal with it again the next time you attempt to enter Canada.
What if I have been convicted of a crime within Canada?
If you have been convicted of a crime from within Canada, you will still have a Criminal Inadmissibility. This will be an issue for you if you are trying to change your status; for example, apply for Permanent Residency. In this case, you do not need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. Instead, you will need to obtain a Record Suspension (previously called a Pardon) form the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). This Record Suspension will have the same effect as Criminal Rehabilitation since it will permanently resolve your inadmissibility issues. Once granted, the Record Suspension will allow you to be admissible to Canada and you can proceed with applying for your Permanent Residency. In some cases, even without applying for a Record Suspension, you may no longer have an inadmissibility. This can be if at least five years have passed since all of your sentences were served, and if you have had no other convictions since. In this case, you can apply for permanent residency without seeking a Record Suspension first. If you have committed a crime from both within Canada and outside of Canada, you will need to seek both Criminal Rehabilitation as well as a Record Suspension before you can be admissible to Canada.
In what circumstances would I not need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?
Even if you have been convicted of a crime outside of Canada, there are some instances in which you would not need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This is because you will already have been deemed rehabilitated due to the elapsed time. More specifically, you are deemed rehabilitated once:
- Ten years have passed after the completion of a sentence that would be considered an indictable offense punishable with an imprisonment of ten years in Canada
- Ten years have passed after the commission of the offense that would be considered an indictable offense punishable with an imprisonment of ten years in Canada
- Five years have passed after the completion of a sentence that would be considered a summary conviction offense in Canada
In general, individuals with a record of non-serious offenses may be deemed rehabilitated after 10 years have passed since they completed their sentence. Though this means that these individuals do not need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation and they should be accepted into Canada, there have been many previous instances where their criminal record still prevented them from seamlessly travelling to Canada. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals with criminal records (such as these) that should be deemed admissible gain a letter from a legal professional stating and explaining that you are deemed rehabilitated and therefore admissible. Those with serious offenses (equivalent to a Canadian imprisonment of 10 years or more) do not have a rehabilitation period, and would have to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation once they are eligible (which would be 5 years after the completion of their sentence).
How do I calculate the 5 year waiting period to be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation?
In order to be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, there is a general 5 year waiting period since your sentence. Since all sentences are different, calculating this specific waiting period can become confusing. There are established rules to follow when calculating your waiting period, as set out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For example, if you have had a suspended sentence, you should count 5 years from the date of the sentencing. If you have had a suspended sentence with a fine, you will need to count 5 years from the date the fine was paid (if you have different payment dates, count from the date of the last payment). For a full list on how the waiting period applies to you, refer to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website, cic.gc.ca.
What documents do I need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation?
Your application should include an Application for Criminal Rehabilitation form, completed properly. You will also need to include photocopies of pages of your passport; those showing your name, birthday, and country of birth. You will also need to provide documents such as court judgements, documents relating to your sentence imposed/completed, documents relating to your pardon or probation, state clearances, addresses you have lived since you were 18, and other documents depending on your specific situation. You will also need to provide the laws under which you were charged/convicted, whether they were foreign or Canada. You can obtain copies of these laws from your local library, lawyers, police authorities, etc. Probably one of the most difficult tasks of Criminal Rehabilitation is determining the legal equivalency of your charge. In other words, the laws under which you were charged must be converted to what they would have been if you were convicted in Canada. This requires analyzing the Canadian Criminal Code, as well as other federal laws of the country. Since this is difficult to figure out if you are not an expert, it is suggested that you seek the advice of a legal professional.
Criminal Rehabilitation Government Fees
There is also a fee to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation; ensure that you include evidence of your payment with your application (for example, a copy of the receipt). For a full list of documents that you may need, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website, cic.gc.ca.
Contact Akrami & Associates
If you are considering applying for Criminal Rehabilitation but do not know how it applies to your situation, consider calling the dedicated and reliable team at Akrami and Associates. We will be more than happy to assess your situation and aid you throughout the process. With Akrami and Associates, there is always a way!