Immigrating to Canada with a Criminal Record

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For citizens from another country not native to Canada, it is possible that immigration is not possible when the individual has a criminal record. This is called criminally inadmissible, and each person is assessed based on the crime, the severity, restitution and behavior exhibited after the incident.

It is possible to immigrate to Canada when the person has all the right documentation, can prove he or she is able to accrue income and may be productive in the country. However, having a criminal past complicates this event to the point that it may not even be possible. The ability to move and live in Canada could be hindered by both lesser and greater crimes. This means that someone convicted of theft, assault and dangerously driving a vehicle may be lumped together with convicts of murder, aggravated circumstances, drug trafficking and similar crimes. The factors surrounding these incident is often what will determine possible entrance into the country.

It generally depends on the crime, how long it has been since it was committed and how well behaved the individual has been since committing the act as to whether he or she may be admitted into the Canadian country. It is crucial for the person to convince immigration officers that rehabilitation was received to the point that he or she has changed since the crime. The convict must have applied for and been approved for rehabilitation. To have overcome the criminal behavior, the country must deem the person reformed. Once this assessment has been approved by officials, it may be possible to enter Canada for temporary or permanent citizenship or stays.

Why is Individual Rehabilitation so Important?

For persons to immigrate to various countries around the world, officials want reassurance that the person is rehabilitated from his or her previous criminal past. Rehabilitation means more than just a certification or a notation in a file. This means that the person is not likely to perpetrate previous crimes, commit new criminal acts or reengage in this type of behavior. When this may be proven, the Minister, delegate or other official may grant the request for immigration. However, other criteria may need to be met first. This may include a current job, verifiable income and a record of improvement.

Some countries want to ensure that immigrants will bring something to the country. The same is often necessary for Canada when someone wants to become a citizen. For the move, the person must have had no criminal convictions and an end to probation with at least five years having passed, the committed act has passed so that the person is not criminally inadmissible and if rehabilitation is being applied for, this could be done so with the VISA application simultaneously. This may be granted together depending on the factors of the crime. Once approved, the individual may be eligible to move to Canada.

Committing to the Immigration

Once rehabilitation has been established and at least five years have passed since the last criminal conviction, it is time to ensure all documentation has been completed and sent to the corresponding officials. Then, the person must commit to the immigration processes and start the permanent move to Canada. When official rehabilitation applications have been received, the individual may apply for and obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization. If any further criminal behavior has been noted or if some factors or data have been missing on applications, the immigrant may be refused. This includes any changes since the forms have been turned in by the potential citizen.

The Visa and Legal Help

A visa for temporary or permanent citizenship may be obtained through the visa office in the region where the person has applied. There is a processing fee and other possible expenses. Application procedure may take over a year for acceptance or refusal which means the individual needs to ensure he or she has planned that far ahead. If a pardon or suspension of the personís criminal record has been received through another country than Canada, it is important to check with the offices to ensure the pardon or suspension is valid.

Sometimes an individualís record has not been expunged or freed of previous charges or convictions. This could lead to an application refusal. This means that the person may need the help of a lawyer to immigrate to Canada. He or she should hire a lawyer to assist with these processes and to decrease the possibility of refusal due to a conviction record.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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