If you have a criminal record, entering Canada can be extremely difficult. Most countries in the world don’t welcome the entry of criminals into their territory for obvious reasons. However, the type of criminal history, period elapsed since conviction and punishment etc may vary from country to country.
In countries like Canada and the US, even a minor conviction for impaired driving committed half a century ago, for instance, can be an obstacle to entry. Other countries may specify violent crimes, drug, sexual and terrorism related crimes etc to be the barrier to entry. Many countries prevent their own citizens from traveling if they have a criminal record.
Today, the world is ridden by the scourge of terrorism and every country’s priority is self-protection and self-preservation. In such a scenario, evidence of even the slightest link with any such organization can curtail your travel plans.
Canada’s policies are equally strict, but it may be possible to enter the country under the Criminal Rehabilitation category. This process is extremely complex, time-consuming and requires you to prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed completely rehabilitated and pose no threat to the security of the country and citizens. Another possibility is to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit, stating your reasons for having to be in the country for a specified purpose and time.
Keeping these factors in mind, it’s wise to consult an experienced, knowledgeable and expert immigration lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases earlier.
What Is Criminal Rehabilitation?
Criminal rehabilitation is a process that allows a foreign national to petition for forgiveness, clemency and permanent relief for crime/s committed in a foreign country. The person has to show that at least five years have elapsed since the expiration of any sentence imposed and that no criminal activity has taken place since.
For quicker processing, there are two categories under Rehabilitation:
- Deemed: is granted if the person has only one conviction, it was at least 10 years prior to applying for entry into Canada and the sentencing and conviction are complete. The offense should not have been one that’s considered a serious criminal one in Canada. It should not have involved weapons, physical harm, property-damage.
- Streamlined: If there have been two or less convictions, the sentence, payment of fines, restitution, imprisonment, etc have been completed at least 5 years prior. Offense not considered serious in Canada and no weapons, physical harm, property-damage were involved.
However, before these categories can be considered, it’s important to understand that Canadian immigration authorities’ background checks are extremely meticulous. If there are any omissions, misrepresentations or embellishments etc, these are sure to be uncovered. You may face deportation at the port of entry even if your application was previously approved.
Canadian authorities have access to worldwide police records. If there is a chance that your name might have appeared in a police report, it’s best to confirm and mention it in your application.
In such cases, it’s strongly recommended that you seek the advice and assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer before filing the application.
The Application Process
The application package has to be thoroughly perused and understood. It’s wise to seek professional assistance while filling the form and drafting covering letters. The paperwork can be challenging and confusing to those not familiar with such procedures.
An instruction guide is available to help you fill the forms. This guide also provides information on inadmissibility criteria.
Foreign laws and convictions are treated as equivalent to Canadian laws and as if the offense has been committed in Canada.
All supporting documents have to be provided: Records of convictions, court dispositions, orders, court proceedings, sentencing, discharge, completion of sentence, pardon (if any).
If you were convicted as a juvenile, there are several other conditions to be considered.
The form has to be accurate and relevant in every way.
Appointing a Representative
You are allowed to appoint a representative to provide advice/consultancy/guidance at any stage of the application process. They have your authorization and permission to conduct business on your behalf with the IRCC (Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada) or the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency). They will receive all correspondence from these agencies. They’re authorized to represent you only in the matter designated in the application.
Representatives may be uncompensated or compensated.
Uncompensated representatives include friends, family, organizations, notaries, consultants, lawyers, NGOs, religious organizations, students-at-law etc who do not charge any fees or receive any other compensation for their services.
Compensated representatives charge fees for their services. They include consultants in good standing with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, lawyers, paralegals, who are all in good standing of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, notaries in good standing with the Chambre des notaire du Quebec. Students at law under the supervision of such lawyers and notaries are also eligible.
Appointing a representative does not confer any special benefits in terms of speedier or more lenient processing. However, it does ensure that your application is presented in a complete, accurate and relevant manner.
How Applications for Criminal Rehabilitation are Viewed
These factors are considered:
- Number, type and seriousness of offenses
- Subsequent behavior
- Explanation of why offense was committed
- Why you’re not likely to repeat the offense
- Community/family support
- Reasons for considering yourself rehabilitated
- Present circumstances
How We Can Assist We can provide assistance with drafting a compelling petition and covering letter which clearly states the facts and circumstances. Being an extremely complex process, with the need to provide extensive documentation, your application for Criminal Rehabilitation can be best handled by our team of experienced immigration lawyers.