Understanding Record Suspensions
There are ways you can overcome your status as inadmissible, and travel to Canada for a brief period of time. Often, individuals will apply for a temporary resident permit, or, apply for criminal rehabilitation. This is done by submitting an application to the government and proving you pose no risk to Canadians if you were to visit the country, and request that the Canadian government forgive your criminal past either temporarily or permanently, depending on the application you choose to submit. Though, there is a third way individuals can overcome their criminal status, and be permitted to travel to Canada again, through something known as a record suspension. Throughout this article, you may learn more details about what a record suspension is, and how it can be used to help you travel freely to Canada again.
What is a Record SuspensionA record suspension is also known as a pardon. Essentially, a record suspension is when you have been formally “pardoned” from your criminal convictions. This does not mean you are no longer guilty of the crime you committed. There will always be a record of all your criminal offenses. Though, a record suspension will keep your records separate from what the RCMP can access. A pardon makes it so no one can access your past record without the specific approval of the Minister of Public Safety. This is a very confusing situation to be in… “Am I Guilty of A Criminal Offense, or Not?” Oftentimes, you are asked if you have a criminal record. This comes up on applications to travel to other countries, job applications, and for a variety of other opportunities which often are very important to individuals. So, allow us to clear up the issue. If you are asked “do you have a criminal record?” the answer is “YES, but I have been pardoned for my past offense.” Though, most often, the question will be “do you have a criminal record for which record suspension has not been granted?” To this question, the answer is just a plain “NO.”
When Am I Eligible for a Record SuspensionDepending on the crime you committed, you must wait either 5 or 10 years from the time you completed all sentencing to apply for a record suspension. If you were charged with a crime but never convicted, this will still appear on your criminal record. Though, if this is the case, there is no period of time you must wait before applying for a record suspension. There are some restrictions on individuals who can apply for a record suspension at all. If you were convicted of a Schedule 1 Offence (sexual offence involving a child) under the Criminal Records Act, or, you were convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than three (3) offences prosecuted by indictment, each with a prison, then you will never be eligible to apply for a record suspension.
How Do I Apply For a Record SuspensionYou can apply for a pardon if the offense you committed was in Canada through the Parole Board of Canada. Furthermore, if you receive a pardon from another country, you can check with the visa office that serves the country or region where you live. It will tell you if the pardon is valid in Canada. It takes an average of 12-24 months for a record suspension application to be processed and granted in Canada, and this can vary greatly based on your country of origin. In addition, if you are not applying for a record suspension in Canada, you must also assume the visa office near you, may not respond to your inquiry right away, and you must leave time to receive an answer from your local visa office, before attempting to travel to Canada with your pardon, to ensure it is valid. Also, it takes roughly 3-10 months to prepare the record suspension application, because many documents must be collected. Therefore, it is a good idea to start preparing the application well in advance of your preferred travel date. In fact, it would be proactive to start preparing your application sometime before you become eligible for a record suspension. Depending on the crime you committed, as mentioned, this is either 5 or 10 years from the time you completed all sentencing. If you are thinking about applying for a pardon, please contact us for advice on the complete list of documents required to submit a strong application for a record suspension.
What If My Application for a Record Suspension is Denied/ Not Recognized in CanadaWell, there could be one of two issues. Many clients come to us as they have been denied the pardon after they applied on their own. Many applications get denied because of lack of information or improper filing. It is therefore essential that there is full disclosure and that your documents clearly show you are rehabilitated. If an application is denied, then you can re-apply after one year. Furthermore, if you application is not likely to ever be approved, or, it will never be recognized by Canadian authorities, you can apply for criminal rehabilitation, or, apply for a temporary resident permit before you travel.
What Do I Need to Do Once I’m Pardoned, Before Travelling to CanadaIf you receive a pardon which is valid in Canada, you do not have to submit any applications to a consulate near you, or bring an application for a temporary resident permit to the border. You simply need to show up at the border with evidence of your pardon, and your travel documents, and be prepared to answer any questions a Canadian border officer has to ask you calmly, and in a knowledgeable fashion. It would be wise to also show up with any other documents you have pertaining to your sentence completion and any communications with your local visa office confirming your pardon should be valid in Canada. This will help you avoid issues which arise from miscommunications with a Canadian border officer.
Contact Akrami and AssociatesIf you would like to have your criminal record pardoned and apply for a record suspension, it is important to take all of the aforementioned information into consideration before applying. Record Suspension applications are difficult to pursue on your own, especially if you are unfamiliar; it is highly recommended that you seek out professional and experienced help before attempting to apply. Akrami & Associates work and have experience with many different immigration issues. We have helped many of our clients overcome their criminal inadmissibility and are now pardoned of their offence in Canada. Please feel free to contact Akrami & Associates at 416-477-2545 for more information or if you would like to book a consultation with an immigration professional for more advice. With Akrami & Associates, there is always a way!
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