Immigrate to Canada with a Criminal Record

Overcoming Criminal Inadmissibility: How to Immigrate to Canada with a Criminal Record

How to Immigrate to Canada With a Criminal Record


If you have a criminal record and are intending to immigrate to Canada then it’s important to understand the potential impact a Criminal Conviction will have on your application.


‘Criminal inadmissibility’ is when an individual has committed an offense that makes them ineligible to Immigrate to Canada. The severity of the offense and the amount of time that has passed since the conviction will determine how it is treated under by Canadian Immigration Law.


How to Resolve Criminal Inadmissibility to Canada


You may be able to have your conviction removed in your home country through an acquittal or by resolving the matter.


If the offense was minor, you only have one offense and enough time has passed, you may be classed as ‘deemed rehabilitated’ in Canada. Alternatively, you can seek rehabilitated status from the Canadian court system.


Getting Deemed Rehabilitated Status in Canada


“Deemed rehabilitation” is a process by which individuals with a criminal record may be considered rehabilitated by Canada for immigration purposes.


This means that their past offense will not negatively impact their application and they can apply for permanent residency in the same way as someone with no criminal record.


To be classed as ‘deemed rehabilitated’, applicants for Canadian Immigration must meet certain conditions set by the Canadian government.


These conditions vary depending on the nature of the offense committed and its equivalent offense under Canadian law. For example, if an individual has committed a minor offense for speeding or minor criminal damage and enough time has passed since the conviction, they might be classed as ‘deemed rehabilitated.’


How to Apply for Deemed Rehabilitated Status


To apply for deemed rehabilitation a Canada Immigration applicant must submit enough documentation to prove that they meet the conditions for deemed rehabilitation and are no longer inadmissible to Canada.


As a starting point you are going to need:


  1. proof of your conviction and sentence
  2. proof of when you completed any sentence
  3. the payments of any fines
  4. a full back record check to show you have no other convictions in all the jurisdictions you have lived
  5. a personal statement
  6. details of the offense
  7. any evidence in the case
  8. police reports of the offense and possibly much more


This documentation should be submitted to an immigration officer, who will then review the application and determine whether you are ‘deemed rehabilitated.’


Different Process Depending on Where Your Offenses Were Committed


Inside Canada


If your offense was committed inside Canada your best option would be to go through the court system in Canada and either receive an acquittal or a record suspension.


An acquittal means that the system tells you that you are not convicted anymore and a record suspension means that the Canadian government agrees to remove your name from the criminal records of Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


If you can not obtain either of these then unfortunately you remain Criminally Inadmissible to Canada.


Outside Canada


If your offense was committed outside Canada and you have not yet been convicted, your best bet is to try to resolve the issue through the foreign court first.


Canada can’t make you inadmissible if it does not know if you are going to be convicted, this needs to be finalized. If no conviction is recorded then make sure your record is clear and you are no longer inadmissible to Canada.


If your offense has occurred outside Canada, you need to find the equivalency in the Canadian criminal code or other acts of the parliament. In other words, it doesn’t matter how an offense is prosecuted outside Canada. What matters is equivalency in Canadian law.


Summary Conviction Vs Indictable Crime


If you have already been convicted of an offense outside Canada then you will need to determine if it is a summary conviction (misdemeanor or non-serious crime) or an indictable (serious) crime.


If it is a summary conviction, you will then need to determine if it is your only conviction. If it is your only conviction then you are classed as ‘deemed rehabilitated’ and no longer inadmissible to Canada.


If you have received two summary convictions in your life then you need at least five years to have passed since the time that you completed serving any penalty and paying fines associated with the offense.


The Passage of Time Impact on Immigrating to Canada with a Criminal Record


If you have only one summary conviction then you are deemed rehabilitated and no longer inadmissible to Canada. If you have two summary convictions, you need to wait for 5 years to pass to be deemed rehabilitated.


If you were convicted of an indictable or serious crime outside of Canada tnen you only are ‘deemed rehabilitated’ if at least 10 years have passed since your sentence finished and you paid all the fines related to your conviction.


If your crime was more serious or you have multiple serious offenses then your only option is to apply for rehabilitation directly to be able to Immigrate to Canada with a Criminal Record.


To officially be deemed rehabilitated you will need to submit enough documentation to convince the immigration officer that you qualify for deemed rehabilitation and are not inadmissible anymore.



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Subject Matter Expert at Migration Made Simple | Website | + posts

Jacqueline Chow is an international immigration and visa expert with over 15 years of experience in the field. With a background in law and a passion for helping people, Jacqueline has built a reputation as a trusted and reliable source of information and advice on all aspects of immigration and visas. She has worked with clients from all over the world, including high-net-worth individuals, professionals, skilled workers and families. As a sought-after speaker and commentator Jacqueline has been featured in various media outlets and has given talks on immigration and visas at conferences and events around the world.

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